Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his visit to the United States with a breakfast meeting with top honchos of American business community on Thursday.
The CEOs of the eight big companies were more or less bullish on India and appreciative of the reforms carried out by the BJP-led NDA Government, but they continued to express the same concerns as they did last year-bureaucracy, deregulation delays, taxation policies and banking laws, said an official.
The eight CEOs attending the financial sector roundtable were (1)Vicki Fuller, Chief Investment Officer, New York State Common Retirement Fund; (2) Jamie Dimon, Chairman, CEO and President, J P Morgan; (3) Steve Schwarzman, Chairman, CE) and Co-Founder, Blackstone; (4) Charles Kaye, Co-CEO, Warburg Pincus; (5) Henry Kravis, Co-Chairman and Co-CEO, KKR; (6) Bill Ford, CEO, General Atlantic; (7) Peter Ford, President and CEO, AIG Insurance and (8) Chase Coleman, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Tiger Global.
Steve Schwarzman, CEO, Blackstone, told ANI, “Americans, who are putting very large amounts of money into India, had many suggestions, like how to improve access to the country, and efficiency, and, the Prime Minister was very open to the suggestions.”
“There are a variety of different types of improvements in terms of ability to take companies public, like IPOs, the ability to have more capital in rural areas,” he added.
“India has one of the highest levels of growth and has a pro-reform government,” Schwarzman said further.
Jamie Dimon, CEO, JP Morgan, said, “The government is already undertaking massive amounts of reform. The key message is to continue doing what he is doing. He is strong and he will actually lift up all of India and all of Indian people.”
“The Indian Government has already undertaken massive reforms and the key message was to continue doing what you are doing,” said James Dimon, CEO, JP Morgan Chase
“It was a great meeting with the Prime Minister and very constructive as well,” Dimon added.
“People should know that all our business is devoted there. He (Modi) is strong and he has lived up to all the India,” said Dimon.
“Overall, I was very pleased with the comments of the Prime Minister. India is very attractive to us,” said Vikki Fuller, Chief Investment Officer, New York State Common Retirement Fund.
“The issues he was addressing will be very helpful for us in making decisions to put more capital in India.. He spoke to a number of our partners to invest with. He was progressive in addressing all the issues,” Fuller added.
When asked about the assurances given by the Prime Minister, Fuller said, “It was really everything, from bankruptcy laws to making it easy to do business. His comments that he didn’t believe that the government should be in the business of business, was very important.”
We look at India as a country that is growing very rapidly. As for the pension plan, there needs to be an opportunity for making solid returns for pensioners. We are looking forward to more actions that we have seen thus far. Being invested in India would make it more safe,” Fuller said.
Responding to a question posed by me at a press conference held after the roundtable, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Vikas Swarup admitted that the American CEOs were concerned about Indian taxation policies and bankruptcy laws.
“Some of them talked about issues like there is still some bureaucracy left. They had concerns about taxation, taxation policies. There was also a concern about bankruptcy laws in India for instance, and deregulation, and they wanted a faster pace of infrastructure development,” Swarup said.
“These were not new issues and the Prime Minister was fully aware of these. In fact, he appreciated them for raising these issues, and said that he was committed to getting them resolved,” Swarup added.
During the roundtable interaction with American CEOs linked to the financial sector, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that his government strongly supports the notion of a partnership between the public and private sectors.
Modi, who is on his second visit to the United States, has a “packed schedule” ahead of him, which includes addressing world leaders at a landmark UN Sustainable Development Summit, interacting with top CEOs and Indian diaspora in the Silicon Valley.
In New York, the roundtable on the financial sector was described as a very important meeting with foreign institutional investors (FIIs) expressing a keenness to invest in India, and seeking promised deliverables from the Indian Government.
Prime Minister Modi will also attend roundtables on media and communications hosted by News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch and attend a dinner with Fortune 500 company CEOs.
He would then fly to the West Coast for his visit to California from September 26-27.