India welcomes foreign investment

Monday, 20 September 2004, 07:00 Hrs
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ON BOARD AIR-INDIA ONE: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh emphasised his commitment to economic reforms, saying his government would be pro-business and create a climate conducive to greater foreign investment.

In his first major visit abroad since taking over the reins of the government May 22, Singh told journalists accompanying him to London and New York that his government's commitment to the continuation of the reform process would remain unchanged, with only some "course corrections" being done to ensure that the reforms have a "human face".

His strong statement Sunday came despite some problems with his communist allies who do not share his government's enthusiasm for foreign investment, especially in areas like insurance and telecommunications.

Singh, known for his pioneering role in opening up India's closed economy and unlocking its immense potential in 1991 when he became finance minister, said his government would be pro-business and create an environment conducive to foreign investment.

Even in his departure statement from New Delhi, Singh said his government was "determined to carry forward the process of economic reform, which will increase opportunities for greater economic interaction" with the US and Britain.

When a journalist asked him what change he saw in the situation in the country between 1991 when he became finance minister in the government of P.V. Narasimha Rao and now that he was prime minister, Singh replied there was a "sea change".

He pointed out how at that time India was on the verge of bankruptcy and its credibility was seriously at stake, it had to pawn gold to borrow a mere half a billion dollars and there were question marks regarding the "viability of our economy".

However, in the last few years, the country had been able to maintain a 6-7 percent growth rate and, despite some ups and downs, the economy had by and large done quite well, he said.

Source: IANS
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