By Bhavana Akella

Hong Kong– India is missing at the Asian Financial Forum (AFF) event here, ostensibly because its ministers and officials have opted for the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos in Switzerland later this month, an official said.

“Indian ministers and officials declined our invite citing lack of time as they have to go for Davos for the four-day WEF from January 23-26,” a Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) official told IANS here.

Preparations and meetings for the 2018-19 Union Budget presentation on February 1 has also been cited as another reason for the conspicuous absence of India at the 11th edition of the two-day financial summit being held at Hong Kong Convention Centre in downtown.

Nearly 100 speakers from the global financial community and about 3,000 delegates from around 50 countries, including China and US, are taking part in the forum organised by the Hong Kong government and the HKTDC.

Keynote speakers of AFF include the First Deputy Managing Director of International Monetary Fund (IMF) David Lipton, President of Asian Development Bank (ADB) Takehiko Nakao, President and Chairman of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) Jin Liquin.

The previous editions of this annual forum had hosted the likes of former Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan, former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India U.K. Sinha and global software major Infosys co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy.

“We had invited some Indian financial officials and industry leaders to speak at the AFF, but they replied that they weren’t available for the event dates,” a HKTDC official told IANS here.

The council, however, did not reveal who all or how many Indian officials were invited.

However, there are about 10 Indian delegates from Mumbai representing the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India attending the 11th edition of the two-day forum.

A large group of Indian ministers and government officials would be taking part in this year’s WEF.

On January 23, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be addressing an inaugural session at the 48th annual WEF.

An array of Indian ministers like Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Minister of State for External Affairs Ministry M.J. Akbar will be part of the WEF meeting.

“As a country with such a large finance and start-up community, it is surprising to see such little Indian participation at this international forum,” Rajkumar Adukia, a Mumbai-based chartered accountant attending the AFF, told IANS here.

“If we want foreign investments coming into our country, we need to have Indian businesses and officials taking these fora seriously,” Adukia remarked.

The emerging financial technology (FinTech) sector in Asia and how it can transform the future of banking, the future of jobs in Asia, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data opportunities are some of the topics to be discussed at the two-day event.

With the US economy on the rebound and demand picking up worldwide, the platform would look at the impact of it on the rest of the world and how Asia could capitalise on the opportunities in the developed countries. (IANS)