Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has held a series of meetings with top executives of large corporations like FedEx, Mastercard, Deloitte and Accenture in Washington to highlight expanding investment opportunities in the world’s fastest-growing large economy.
Mastercard chief executive Miebach Michael said his company is planning to set up huge data centres in India and focus on training and digitisation of small businesses. Sitharaman informed Michael about India’s commitment to digital financial inclusion with emphasis on women and MSMEs.
Deloitte chief executive Punit Renjen said his company intends to expand its India operations to smaller cities like Coimbatore and Bhubaneswar. Deloitte, he said, has developed tools to improve the access of rural poor to health facilities.
FedEx president and CEO-elect Raj Subramanian shared his company’s expansion plans in India with the minister and showed interest in setting up R&D Centres in the country.
Accenture chairperson and chief executive Julie Sweet informed Sitharaman that the company is adding a presence in more Tier-II cities in India and focusing on imparting skills to people to prepare them for emerging opportunities. As many as 47% of Accenture’s workforce in India are women, Sweet told Sitharaman.
India will continue to remain the world’s fastest-growing major economy this year and the next, pipping China, despite the damaging impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and other external headwinds, according to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) projections. At 8.2%, India’s growth rate this year is forecast to surpass China’s 4.4%. Similarly, while India is expected to grow 6.9% in the next fiscal, China’s expansion is pegged at 5.1%.
Investments remain critical to India’s economic resurgence, as private consumption has maintained a roller-coaster ride in the aftermath of the pandemic. Gross fixed capital formation grew just 2% in the December quarter from 14.6% in the previous quarter, as a favourable base effect started to wane. A recovery in private investment remains fragile and is limited to few sectors, increasing the country’s reliance on sustained government spending and foreign direct investments.
Sitharaman has been on a visit to the US since Monday to attend the spring meetings of the IMF and the World Bank. She has taken part in the meetings of the finance ministers and central bank governors of the G20 nations.
Attending a ministerial dinner for development committee members in Washington, Sitharaman called for addressing challenges emanating from fragility, conflict and violence as necessary to achieve the twin goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity, more so when about two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor will live in countries infested by these issues by 2030. Her comments came at a time when the Russia-Ukraine conflict threatens to linger on for a longer period than many had anticipated.
Issues such as livelihood, education, health and groups, including women, youth and children should always be prioritised while engaging with fragile and conflict-affected situations, she said.
Separately, Sitharaman participated in the ministerial meeting of the Financial Action Task Force in Washington and reaffirmed India’s commitment to fighting money laundering and terrorist financing.