The pro-investor euphoria created on the election of Narendra Modi to power in 2014 has diluted upon uncovering of more scams and announcement of populist measures, said Tarun Bhatia, Managing Director, Kroll India. And, at a time when there’s an impending election, and global markets are becoming increasingly unstable, the global investors are choosing to be in a ‘wait and watch’ mode, Tarun Bhatia told FE Online.
Earlier this year, a multi-billion rupee scam at Punjab National Bank (PNB) by diamond czar Nirav Modi in collusion with bank employees rocked the nation, likely putting off global investors. Speaking exclusively with FE.Com, the India MD of the risk-management firm said, “As there’s more transparency, more frauds come to light but the concern (of global investors) is around the processes to rebuild the trust within an organisation.”
India has seen a significant increase in fraud since last year, with 89% of respondents in Indian organizations saying they had experienced a fraud incident in the previous 12 months, compared with just 68% in 2016, Kroll’s global fraud report showed. While cases like Nirav Modi become “eventful”, there are many other cases that pose a huge risk to India’s business-friendly image, especially when the country is competing with other emerging markets, said Tarun Bhatia.
India witnessed one of the world’s highest incidences of theft of physical assets or stock, with 40% organisations experiencing such frauds. “Global investors look for stability. When you are vying for their money, you are competing with other markets such as Philippines, Vietnam etc. India is in a sweet spot when it comes to the fast economic growth and huge consumption market, but investors want sustainable returns,” Tarun Bhatia said.
When Narendra Modi came to power, he said, it was a full-majority government after 10-15 years of coalition government, there was a lot of euphoria. Now because of frauds, unstable global market, and populist measures, the same level of confidence is not there as it was at the time of 2014, Tarun Bhatia said.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) in India recorded a five-year-low inflow growth rate of 3% at $44.85 billion in 2017-18 after a witnessing a whopping 29% growth in the 2015-16 and 27% in 2014-15. Post-FY16, the inflow growth dropped significantly to just 8%.
“We need capital and we can’t build it on our own. For that we need foreign investors, the centre has stopped subsidies but at the state-level, others are subsidising in terms of farm loans waivers, the message is getting diluted,” he added. With 2019 Lok Sabha elections about 10 months away, the global investors are looking for cues on stability and consistency of policies, until then, they are likely to be in wait and watch mode, Tarun Bhatia concluded.