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Swraj Paul hails Budget

Paul said it was an important step in taking India towards the position of a developed country.

india Updated: Mar 01, 2003 00:15 IST

The Union Budget presented by Finance Minister Jaswant Singh was an important step in taking India towards the position of a developed country, London-based industrialist Lord Swraj Paul has said.

"It is a very good budget," Paul said. "I have always believed India has the capability of being a developed nation. This budget is a strong step in that direction."

He said the budget has "encouraged reforms, it provides tax benefits for the education of children, and for senior citizens, and it encourages spending on infrastructure."

These steps will encourage foreign investment and help to make India a global player, he felt. "Once people see India as developing towards a developed country, they will have more confidence in it," he said.

Non-Resident Indians expecting to be fussed over following the proposal for introduction of dual citizenship were disappointed because the budget makes no specific provisions in that direction.

Several foreign firms are expected to be encouraged by the move to permit foreign direct investment in private banks up to 74 per cent from the previous 49 per cent. This means foreign banks can have full policy and operational control.

"This can help servicing companies setting up in India and give them new confidence," an executive at a leading bank with a large presence in India, said.

Shantoo Ruparell, a leading financial lawyer and investment adviser, said the message the budget will give would be good because of the message it gave within India.

"It is wonderful to see the introduction of a health scheme and other social measures," he said. "It gives the idea of India as introducing the systems of a developed country rather than a developing country."

The pension scheme that gives a guaranteed return of nine per cent was better than any such scheme in Britain, he said. In Britain what people are getting now was less than what they paid in.

The new spending on infrastructure will also move India on the road towards development, Ruparell said. "Once goods move faster they become cheaper and that makes the economy more sound. All this is also good news for foreign investors," he said.

"This budget will go a long way in taking India forward," Ruparell maintained.

First Published: Feb 28, 2003 21:23 IST