What NRIs expect from Budget
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What NRIs expect from Budget

A number of professionals from Austria, Australia, Britain, the US and the Gulf states have different aspirations.

india Updated: Feb 25, 2006 10:57 IST

What do non-resident Indians (NRIs) expect from the Indian budget?

A number of professionals from Austria, Australia, Britain, the US and the Gulf states have different aspirations.

"India has made remarkable progress in the last few years and must maintain this momentum," said Shamlal Puri, a media professional from London.

"For this India must tackle its bureaucracy and remove the barriers that impede investment."

"While the government welcomes the extremely rich investors with open arms, lifting all bureaucratic barriers, the same cannot be said for 'middle class' investors bringing their money into India. Not all NRIs are billionaires and trillionaires, but they still want to invest in the motherland. The government should make serious efforts to attract their money too. Remember, every drop fills the bucket.

"Corruption is the bane of any society. If any NRIs are discouraged from investing in India, it is because every step is blocked by bribe-seeking babus in government offices," he said.

"They don't do the job for which they are paid unless the NRIs part with money. Why should this happen when the government is encouraging NRIs to invest in India? So transparency is very important if India has to maintain its status as an economic giant."

"India is on the path of progress," said Sudershan K Gupta, a tax expert and a chartered accountant, in Melbourne, Australia.

"However, the present government is finding it difficult to move on because of Left pressure. India must now plan for improved delivery of public services and infrastructure. Taxes ought to take a back seat, if the momentum of progress is to be sustained - federal and state VAT anomalies should be resolved as soon as possible. VAT needs a lot of reform," he said.

An expert in finance, Raj Mehta, from Ellicott City, Maryland, US, said: "I would like to see more and more Indian stocks listed on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq. Special discounted air tickets are needed for NRIs' families to explore India's heritage as I wish to send my family to India every year. It will not only boost tourism but will boost NRIs' investments.

"Indians are the fastest growing rich community in the US with a per capita income more than $100,000. The US provides corporate welfare to US corporations so that they can invest millions of dollars in foreign countries. We need the same treatment for the Indian companies to invest in the US."

"I would like less taxes on mutual funds from a NRI prospective," opined Sudhir Chowdhary, a computer professional who runs a consultancy in Chicago.

"If I am paying the same amount in taxes in mutual funds in India as in the US, then I would like to see money growing in front of my eyes rather than in a remote location. If the government provides more schemes on bonds and compulsory deposits and less interest on home loans, I would love to invest in India," he said.

On NRIs owning property, Chowdhary said: "Residential-bungalows near Delhi are priced above Rs 10 million. I need to invest around $180,000 with a nine per cent APR to buy one. I am unable to do so because I have to take care of the future of my family also. So I am looking for a property for Rs 30,00,000 near Delhi but it is difficult. Before investing Rs 10 million in India I have to think a lot because an estate agent in California offered me a condo for $650,000."

The basic problems in buying property are the high and different rates of property tax, which must be reduced and standardised to stop black money and attract NRIs, he added.

K Kannan, from Dubai, said: "The recent granting of dual citizenship is welcome but we need better opportunities for starting small and medium industries to create jobs in the areas we come from.

"Too many hurdles have to be overcome to start new businesses and industries and these must be reduced. The government must tackle black money and if it is finished, then there will be no need to send money to India by 'hawala'."

What would an economist wish in the budget?

George Assaf, a senior economist and author of Too many with too little: The challenges for India's development paradigm, commented from Vienna: "The key issues are still the same: employment creation, development in rural areas, reducing poverty, making industry work and education to provide the educated labour force for India to capitalise on its assets. To do all this, you have to tackle more forcefully the taboo subjects of the caste system, discrimination and corruption."

On India's high fiscal deficit, Assaf said: "The deficit has been large for some time with high reserves and this has not until now put a damper on things. Still, this is a problem that must be addressed as it is crowding out investment and the government's capacity to undertake its social programmes/expenditures or will do so soon."

First Published: Feb 25, 2006 10:45 IST