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Modi promises to address “uncertainties”

US President Barack Obama in IndiaNEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday promised an open business environment, predictable tax regime and to remove “remaining uncertainties” as President Barack Obama raised issues of trade barriers and intellectual property while seeking ease of doing business in India.

Modi asserted that his government has removed some of the “excesses of the past” and said “we will now soon address the remaining uncertainties”, an apparent reference to the retrospective taxation law of the previous government that put off global investors.

Pledging US$4 billion in lending by US banks, Obama said the US is ready to help India grow by working with it in development of infrastructure like railways, ports, roads and clean energy power plants.

Both the leaders were addressing a meeting of the US-IndiaBusiness Council on the second day of the US President’s visit that was attended by top corporate leaders of both the countries.

Earlier, addressing a meeting of India-US CEO Forum that he would personally take charge of implementation of big projects and monitor them.

“You will find environment that is not only open, but also welcoming. We will guide you and walk with you in projects.

You will find a climate that encourages investment and rewards enterprise. It will nurture innovation and protect your intellectual property.

“It will make it easy to do business…. You will find a tax regime that is predictable and competitive. We have removed some of the excesses of the past. We will now address the remaining uncertainties,” Modi said at the USIBC meeting.

In his speech, Obama said specific things that need to be done by two countries is to make it easy for doing business in both the countries.

“There are still barriers,” he said adding there was a need to streamline regulations, cut the red tape and jump through bureaucracy.

The US President announced US$4 billion investment in India including US$1 billion for financing exports from US to aid Make-in-India programme here, a similar amount for small and medium industries and US$2 billion in renewable energy projects.

Appreciating Modi’s reform initiatives to bring investments, he said: “We need to incentivise trade rather than stifle. We need to be transparent, consistent and protective of intellectual property rights.”

“We can work together to develop new technologies to help India leap forward and partner in next generation clean energy projects and upgrade railways, roads, ports, airports and broadband connectivity to provide best connectivity to the world,” he said.

He also referred to the three smart cities that US would be helping India in setting up and upgrading infrastructure.

Reviewing his visit, Obama said the two countries have “a number of concrete” steps for more investments and referred to breakthrough in civil nuclear agreement, defence cooperation, renewable energy and bilateral investment protection treaty (BIPA).

“When leaders make agreements, our agencies and bureaucracy will follow through,” he said. “We can grow and we can prosper together.”

Obama referred to the current bilateral trade of US$100 billion and compared it to US-China trade of US $560 billion saying: “It can give you idea of what potential India can unleash.”

“We have to make sure that growth remains inclusive and is sustained. Growth has to make people’s life better in tangible way,” he said adding growth cannot be measured in GDP figures and bottomline of balance sheets.

“In the past eight months, we have worked tirelessly to fulfill the mandate (of the people) – not just to increase our economic growth… Our task is huge and it wont happen overnight. We are conscious of our challenges but also inspired by our successes, ” Modi said.

He said the business sentiments in India were among the strongest among major Asian markets. Consumer confidence has turned positive after three years.

“Growth in 8 core sectors of economy has increased sharply. Inflation is at a 5-year low. 110 million new bank accounts have been opened in last four months. Investments from the US have jumped by 50 percent in first six months of my government,” he said.

“And I know that some of the pledges made in September in Washington have begun to flow in. Yes, I do keep track of these things,” he said as the audience cheered the remarks.

Modi said the scale of India’s dream was vast and therefore the opportunities it offered were huge.

He said prosperity of India will be an important anchor of stability for the global economy and an engine for its growth.

“Above all, a prosperous India will be a force for peace and stability in the world.”

Referring to the cooperation in new areas like civil nuclear and renewable energy and defence equipment, Modi said economies resurgence in both countries gives us greater optimism of future of bilateral ties.

“As the two largest democracies, we have fundamental stake in each other’s success for the sake of our values and shared interest. Working by ourselves, we can still advance our common interest. But, if we work together, we can achieve greater success,” he said.  – From Press Trust India

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