Govt to reach out to world with reform-FDI agenda

Govt to reach out to world with reform-FDI agenda

The government is all set to ‘go about’ telling the world about its pursuit for reforms and seek investments, notwithstanding the brittleness of the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance and the buzz within the political circles about early polls.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is ready to leave for Berlin on Wednesday, is expected to convey to German chancellor Angela Merkel that his government was firmly on its course in implementing the reform agenda and improving investment climate within the country. He is also likely to underline the same when he would visit United Arab Emirates and Japan in the coming months.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who has just returned from a tour to Dubai and Tokyo, also will leave for Canada soon.

He is scheduled to speak on “Canada’s Place in India’s Future” at an event organised by Canada-India Business Council in Toronto on April 15. He had also visited Hong Kong, Singapore, Frankfurt and London in January, primarily to tom-tom the reform measures initiated by the UPA government and to hard-sell India as a favourable destination for investment.

“Certainly, the Prime Minister would use the opportunity of his discussions with the German Chancellor and in the Intergovernmental Consultations to clarify the steps taken by India to improve its investment climate and to emphasise that the reform process is on the right track,” Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said on Monday. He was briefing media-persons about Singh’s three-day visit to Berlin for the India-Germany Inter-Governmental Consultations.

Germany, which is the eighth largest source of foreign direct investment in India, had last year welcomed the UPA government’s move to allow foreign capital inflow to airlines and multi-brand retail and had stated that New Delhi should sustain the thrust for reforms.
Berlin, with rest of Europe, is also understood to be keenly waiting for New Delhi to move ahead on reforms in insurance and pension sectors.

Chidambaram last Saturday told journalists that government was holding consultations with the Opposition on the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2008. He expressed hope that the Bill, which sought to raise the cap for foreign investment from 26% to 49%, would be passed by Parliament during the second half of the budget session. He said the government was also optimistic about the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Bill, 2011.

Prime Minister last week indicated that the government was contemplating to announce new reform measures. He also stated that a comprehensive review of the FDI policy was underway.

“I cannot second-guess what the Prime Minister might say about the future…but certainly the very large number of steps which we have taken in the past would be clarified. ” the foreign secretary said.

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