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‘India’s FDI regime is among most liberal in world today’

The government is gearing up for the crucial winter session of Parliament to push through with crucial reforms. Bureaucrats too have been on an overdrive to get growth back on track.

CNBC-TV18 spoke with one such bureaucrat, secretary of the department of industrial policy and promotion Amitabh Kant, who discussed the government’s actions on FDI and liberalization and outlined the growth ahead.

Below is the transcript of Amitabh Kant’s interview with CNBC-TV18’s Shereen Bhan.

Q: The government has opened up railway FDI, it has eased the foreign investment norms for defence and construction FDI. What are the other sectors where we can expect more FDI liberalisation and even in the ones where we have actually seen liberalisation being cleared, what kind of dollar surge do you anticipate?

A: The government has done a lot. This government has really in the last 150 days brought in major radical changes. It has brought in 100 percent FDI in railways – operation, maintenance and construction of a vast range of infrastructure in the rail sector, which was unheard of, quite unbelievable, about six months back.

It has opened up the defence sector, it has deregulated almost 60 percent of the items, it has taken FDI regime in defence from 26 to 49 percent and in modernisation of state-of-the-art cases you can go up to 100 percent. It has fully liberalised the construction sector and it is on the verge of liberalising the insurance sector. So, the Indian FDI regime is extremely liberal, it is probably the most liberal FDI regime anywhere in the world today.

Q: Have you started getting queries on defence and rail FDI proposals. I know that some investments have already been cleared by the DIPP specifically when it comes to defence but what about rail in specific?

A: In last meeting itself we cleared something like 21 proposals for defence manufacturing. So, you will see a big movement forward as we go along in the next 8-10 months.

Q: Let me ask you about the ease of doing business. India’s position in the ease of doing business index has slipped in the last report. Of course the report does not take into account the period up to May this year. The DIPP I know has initiated several measures to improve the ease of doing business, what else is the government planning in the coming months?

A: We have taken the challenge given by the prime minister that India must radically improve its position. We have worked very closely across ministries, we have done a lot of business process reengineering, we have brought everything online, we have done away with human intervention in a large number of cases.

We are converging with other departments and we are spreading this revolution to the states and you will see the results during the next years study. I am sure India’s position will very significantly come down.

Q: Given what you just articulated what position can we expect in the next ease of doing business ranking?

A: Very difficult to say that at this point of time but our attempt is that India’s position must sharply come down.

Q: I also wanted to ask you about the single-window system which will be critical to improving the ease of doing business. By when do we expect the single window system to be in place? We understand it may have run into certain troubles?

A: E-biz is already fully functional as far as the department of industrial policy is concerned. You can get industrial licence and industrial entrepreneur memorandum filing within 24 hours. We are integrating this with the department of company affairs and with the ministry of finance and you will see the results by the end of December.

Q: Let me ask you about investor perception, several foreign pharma companies for instance have maintained that India has a weak IPR regime. Is that likely to impact investments and is the government willing to negotiate at all as far as the IPR regime is concerned?

A: India’s IPR regime is fully TRIPS compliant. We are very clear about that we believe in intellectual property rights. We want to be extremely aggressive about it but we are also clear that we are fully TRIPS compliant. This policy of intellectual property was fully debated, discussed by our parliament before the intellectual property act was passed. If there are any concerns in fact to the contrary we have received a lot of praise for our intellectual property regime from across the world. In case some pharma companies have any dispute we are always there to discuss, debate with them through a process of debate and discussion through a bilateral mechanism.


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