Mixed bag of demands on final day

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SummaryThe final day of the two-day World Economic Forum saw a mixed bag of demands and announcements from both government and India Inc.

The final day of the two-day World Economic Forum (WEF) saw a mixed bag of demands and announcements from both government and India Inc.

The US Ambassador to India Nancy J Powell said her country is expecting a relaxation in the foreign direct investment norms in the insurance sector. Global hospitality chain Starwood Hotels and Resorts said it hopes to manage around 100 hotels in India by 2015.

The government also announced that it will be able to meet the R30,000-crore disinvestment target set for 2012-13, a tall order since it has not been able to divest in public sector units due to poor market conditions.

The finance ministry also said that the decision to set up the National Investment Board (NIB) to clear large infrastructure projects is expected in the next two-three weeks time.

Apollo Tyres said it would invest around R2,500 crore to set up two new facilities in east Europe and Brazil, which will help the company expand its global footprint over the next 3-4 years while Bharti Airtel said the industry will need to raise tariffs as margins of operators are getting hurt at the current rate. Taking forward the voice of re-elected Obama administration, US ambassador to India Powell said: "We are looking at the expansion of FDI, particularly at expansion of FDI in insurance." The bill to increase FDI cap in the insurance sector from 26% to 49% has been pending in the Rajya Sabha since 2008. Last month, the Cabinet had decided to move ahead with its proposal to hike foreign investment ceiling in the sector.

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