Indian telecom sector got $10 billion foreign investment in eight months of 2016-17

Nov 30, 2016 0

New Delhi–The Indian telecom sector has received foreign direct investment (FDI) of $10 billion in the first eight months of the current fiscal, Telecom Secretary J.S. Deepak said here on Wednesday.

“The telecom sector reforms have got a resounding acknowledgement. The FDI which was $1.3 billion in 2014-15, $2.9 billion in 2015-16 has jumped up to more than $10 billion in the first eight months of 2016-17,” Deepak said.

He was addressing the 12th National Summit e-Governance and Digital India organised by Assocham.

Telecom Secretary J.S. Deepak

Telecom Secretary J.S. Deepak

Talking about Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD)-based mobile banking transactions, Deepak said: “There is not only a need to popularise USSD, but there is a need to simplify it. We need to work on a push USSD rather than a pull USSD.”

The USSD service is used by people using feature phones to check the balance in their bank accounts and transfer money.

At a time when the country is undergoing a demonetisation drive of higher denomination Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, every day more and more people are logging into online payment modes and online banking transactions.

“The merchants should be able to push in a message to feature phone users wherein you just have to okay it for a transaction and goes back to the banks. The burden of enabling IFSC (Indian Financial System Code) and other should move from the payers to the recipient,” the secretary added.

The sectoral regulator — Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) – has recently lowered the USSD tariff to a maximum of 50 paise per transaction, from the earlier rate of Rs 1.50 per session.

He also said 97 per cent of the population in India is on 2G and 68 per cent on 3G telephony. (IANS)

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Indian Government calls for free India-UK trade across sectors

Nov 7, 2016 0

New Delhi,– The Indian government here on Monday called for free trade across sectors, including smart cities and manpower, between India and the UK as the two countries signed two Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) on ease of doing business and protecting intellectual property rights (IPR).

“UK seems to want Indian market, Indian goods but not Indian talent,” Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters, adding that the issue of visa fee and student visa was raised in the bilateral talks.
Sitharaman was speaking at a press briefing on the sidelines of the three-day India-UK Tech Summit starting on Monday. The summit was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and British Premier Theresa May, who is on a three-day official visit to India.

“The MoU on ease of doing business was towards sharing of best practices and technical assistance on certain parameters. It covers state governments as well,” Sitharaman said.

It will help India get technical know-how on certain parameters in which the UK has expertise, Sitharaman added.

NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said, “India should push the limit when it comes to enhancing trade and investment with the UK after Brexit.”

Kant added that free trade should be across the board as there is no such thing as selective free trade. He was speaking at a session at the India-UK Tech Summit organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

There is need for free trade in cross-border movement of manpower as well and the UK should allow meritorious people from India to work in the UK, he said.

There is immense potential between India and the UK in the area of urbanisation, education, defence, finance, creative industry, and start-ups, Kant added.

“The government has created a conducive eco-system for start-ups. The Masala Bonds, launched in the UK, could help meet the funding requirements for start-ups,” he said.

Greg Hands, UK Minister of Trade and Investment, said that Brexit offers a huge opportunity for UK-India economic interaction in areas such as life sciences, infrastructure, and services, among others.

“A Working Group has been constituted on Trade which would discuss the issue of India-UK FTA at an appropriate time,” Hands said. (IANS)

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Foreign Ministry also contributed to 53 percent foreign investment growth: Sushma Swaraj

Oct 23, 2016 0

Indore–External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Sunday that the role of her ministry is undergoing transformation, as apart from diplomatic functions, now it is also acting as a catalyst to national development.

Addressing the closing ceremony of the two-day Global Investors’ Summit here, Sushma Swaraj said it is also because of the changing role of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), among others, that there has been an increase of 53 per cent in the foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country.

“This is first time that the foreign ministry has taken upon itself the task to boost national development. Never ever in the past domestic development was part of the MEA agenda,” he said.

Sushma Swaraj

Sushma Swaraj

“Previously, it used to be just a ministry for diplomatic purposes. But today, we are performing the diplomatic role, ensuring safety of the Indians in trouble abroad, and also generating funds for the development of the country,” the minister said.

Sushma Swaraj said: “Compared to the last year, there’s been a rise of 53 per cent in FDI, which is going to the states. With a view to ensure that investments reach the states, a dedicated division has been formed within the MEA. An officer under the MEA Joint Secretary guides the states in making the most of such funds.”

The External Affairs Minister also called upon the investors to make greater investments in Madhya Pradesh.

She said her parliamentary constituency, Vidisha, falls within this state, and Budhni, the assembly constituency of state’s Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, also falls within her constituency.

“So, those making investments here will avail special benefits…the ministry helps the investors going to other states, but those investing in Madhya Pradesh will get direct assistance from the foreign minister herself,” she added.

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Indian growth makes it natural recipient of higher foreign investment: Jaitley

Oct 10, 2016 0

Washington– India, since it is growing much faster as compared to the rest of the world, has become natural recipient of a higher level of foreign direct investment (FDI), Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said.

“India has become far more aspirational than ever before. So compared to the rest of the world, we are doing much better,” Jaitley, who is here attending the annual fall meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, told reporters on Sunday.

“Since India is growing much faster, as compared to the rest of the world, it has become the natural recipient of a higher level of FDI,” he said.

“For the rest of the world, whereas we aspire to do better in this adverse environment, they consider it extremely impressive. So there is a lot of global buzz around India,” he added.

The Finance Minister, however “put a caveat”, saying by India’s own yardstick, its current growth rate is not enough.

“We can do still better, which in a sense, is not a bad thing to happen. To be restless, to be impatient is a sign of wanting to do better,” he said.

“I think with the kind of investments, both domestic and international, that we are getting, a reasonable amount of growth will always be there. If growth returns to the world, then you would probably move up. Structural reforms like GST (Goods and Services Tax) can only add to that,” he added.

He pointed to the unsupportive global environment and stagnant investment in some private sectors as inhibiting factors.

“In India, we have to learn to live in an environment where the world is going to move slowly. And the world is not going to be very supportive of growth. The global environment is not very supportive of growth,” he said.

Jaitley has a series of bilateral meetings here with his counterparts from various countries, including the US, Britain and China, Iran, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, said the Indian Finance Ministry.

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Foreign Investment increase needs to translate into jobs: Sitharaman

Oct 6, 2016 0

New Delhi–Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday lauded the increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) in India but said it will be meaningful only when it translates into increased job creation.

“FDI flow is really very good but we have to translate it into meaningful investments and job creation. So not only increased foreign investments coming in, but we are working for it to be meaningful,” Sitharaman said at the World Economic Forum’s ongoing India Economic Summit here.

“Our attention will be to remove obstructions, so that businesses feel the ease,” she added.

Sitharaman said the government was now working towards adding infrastructure capabilities in tier-III cities and rural areas for the benefits of increased foreign investment to percolate down.

“Lot of regulatory mechanisms that go down to the local bodies will have to be eased upon. In rural areas, in tier-III towns, better market access needs to be provided,” she said.

For the comprehensive agenda, inter-ministerial synergy needs to be there and states too need to come on board, she said, adding, “work is on but there is more to achieve”. (IANS)

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India clears three foreign direct investment proposals

Sep 21, 2016 0

New Delhi– The government on Wednesday cleared three Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) proposals worth Rs 0.35 crore.

“Based on the recommendations of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) in its 239th meeting held on 30th August 2016, the Government of India has approved three FDI proposals,” the Ministry of Finance said in a statement.

According to the statement, proposals of Dr. Willmar Schwabe India, SAET India and Bugworks Research India were approved.

The FIPB in its meeting held on August 30, approved the proposal of Dr. Willmar Schwabe India to commence manufacturing and distribution of dietary supplement products and nutraceuticals manufactured in India by way of retail or wholesale among others.

The proposal of SAET India to transfer shares from one non-resident to another non-resident for Rs 732.6 per share was also approved.

The statement further said that seven proposals including those of Rain Industries, Entrepreneur India Media, Bashundhara Paper Mills India, BNP Paribas Asset Management India, Whizdm Innovations, TM Harbour Services and Sharekhan were deferred.

“Regarding the proposal of M/S Almondz Insurance Brokers Pvt Ltd which was approved in the 232nd meeting held on 7th March 2016 subject to submission of an amended Share Purchase Agreement, the Board noted that the applicant had submitted the amended Share Purchase Agreement /Shareholders’ Agreement after deleting the requisite clauses, and accordingly, recommended the increased FDI upto Rs.59 crore for approval,” the statement added. (IANS)

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Not considering foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail yet: Sitharaman

Sep 7, 2016 0

New Delhi–India is not considering allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail trading in the current circumstances, the government said on Wednesday.

“At the moment, India can create several Walmarts of its own. We welcome anybody. But if some way this dialogue is moving towards, why not in multi-brand retail in India? My answer is – Not yet,” Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at The Economist magazine’s ‘India Summit’ here.

Elaborating on the rationale behind government policy, the minister said there is an issue of last-mile connectivity, adequate infrastructure and financial inclusion of segments like farmers and small traders.

Sitharaman“If only that happens, and if they (farmers and small traders) are adequately empowered to tackle the market themselves. But today we are trying to bridge those gaps. We are still not ready to have them and face a competition where there would not be a level playing field,” Sitharaman said.

India currently permits 51 per cent foreign investment in multi-brand retail. The Bharatiya Janata Party, the largest constituent of the ruling NDA, is opposed to FDI in this sector.

To a query on the absence of big supermarkets in India, Sitharaman said that “our supermarkets are friendlier than the faceless supermarkets I have been in the West.”

Meanwhile, an e-commerce committee headed by NITI Aayog chief executive Amitabh Kant held its first meeting here on Monday to discuss issues related to the sector, a senior official said.

Currently, the government allows 100 per cent FDI via the automatic route in the marketplace model of e-commerce.

However, foreign investment is not permitted in inventory-based e-commerce. (IANS)

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Many changes in Indian foreign investment policy

Aug 31, 2016 0

New Delhi–The Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave its sanction for the major changes in the foreign direct investment policy approved in June and designed to liberalise norms by increasing FDI to 100 per cent in defence and further ease the regime in many other sectors.

“The FDI policy amendments are meant to liberalise and simplify the FDI policy so as to provide ease of doing business in the country leading to larger FDI inflows contributing to growth of investment, incomes and employment,” said a Commerce Ministry release here.

The changes introduced in the policy included increase in sectoral caps, bringing more activities under automatic route and easing of conditionalities for foreign investment.

According to the changed norms, FDI in defence sector is now permitted up to 100 per cent, while earlier 49 per cent FDI was permitted under the automatic route. FDI above 49 per cent was permitted through approval on a case-by-case basis, wherever it was likely to result in access to state-of-the-art technology.

Hundred per cent FDI under the automatic route has been allowed in brownfield airport projects, with a view to aid in modernisation of existing airports.

For single-brand retail trading, norms of local sourcing have been relaxed for up to three years with prior government approval for entities trading in products having state-of-the-art and “cutting edge” technology.

The FDI ceiling in sectors like teleports, Direct to Home (DTH), cable networks, mobile TV and Headend-in-the Sky Broadcasting Service (HITS) has been increased to 100 per cent.

For the pharmaceutical sector, new liberalised norms allow 74 per cent FDI under the automatic route for brownfield pharmaceuticals, while FDI beyond 74 per cent would be permitted through the government approval route.

Further, 100 per cent FDI under the automatic route for trading, including through e-commerce, has been permitted for food products manufactured or produced in India.

In case of private security agencies, FDI up to 49 per cent is now permitted under the automatic route, and beyond that and up to 74 per cent by way of government approval.

The latest FDI liberalisation has resulted in increased FDI inflows at $55.46 billion in 2015-16, as against $36.04 billion in 2013-14, the statement said.

“This is the highest-ever FDI inflow for a particular financial year,” it said.

“However, it was felt that the country has potential to attract far more foreign investment which can be achieved by further liberalising and simplifying the FDI regime,” it added.

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India approves permanent residency status for foreign investors

Aug 31, 2016 0

New Delhi– In an attempt to encourage foreign investments in India, the central government on Wednesday approved a scheme to grant permanent residency status (PRS) to foreign investors for 10 years subject to conditions specified in the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy.

The Union Cabinet approved the scheme at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi here.

Indian Prime Minister Mody

Indian Prime Minister Mody

According to a government statement, suitable provisions will be incorporated in the visa manual to provide for the grant of PRS to foreign investors.

The PRS will be granted for a period of 10 years with multiple entry. This can be renewed for 10 more years if the PRS holder has not come to adverse notice.

The scheme will be applicable only to foreign investors fulfilling the prescribed eligibility conditions, his/her spouse and dependents.

In order to avail this scheme, the foreign investor will have to invest a minimum of Rs 10 crore to be brought within 18 months or Rs 25 crore to be brought within 36 months.

Further, the foreign investment should result in generating employment to at least 20 resident Indians every financial year.

The PRS will serve as a multiple entry visa without any stay stipulation and PRS holders will be exempted from the registration requirements.

The PRS holders will be allowed to purchase one residential property for dwelling purpose.

The spouse/dependents of the PRS holder will be allowed to take up employment in private sector (in relaxation to salary stipulations for Employment Visa) and undertake studies in India. (IANS)

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Canadian firm to invest $12 million in India

Aug 11, 2016 0

New Delhi–Canadian Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solutions company SOTI on Thursday announced it will invest $12 million in a state-of-the-art facility in India which will add 300 new jobs in engineering and software development fields in the next two years.

India is a key focus market in SOTI’s growth strategy, acting as a hub for Asia-Pacific (APAC) operations across manufacturing, retail, hospitality, banking and transport and logistics sectors, the company said in a statement.

“With SOTI’s competency in enterprise mobility and focus on enabling business transformation across vertical sectors, we are uniquely positioned to execute on a connected enterprise mobility and internet of things (IoT) strategy,” said Carl Rodrigues, CEO, SOTI.

According to a recent study by IT industry apex body Nasscom and Deloitte, the global enterprise mobility market has been pegged at $140 billion by 2020, with APAC region to grow by 21 per cent.

SOTI works across solutions for both the knowledge and task worker, rugged and consumer devices, connected peripherals, and all major operating systems.

The company has six global offices and employees in more than 22 countries.

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