Encourage investment, US trade group tells India

Washington, Feb 7 (IANS) Ahead of India's budget this month end, a US trade advocacy group seeking stronger commercial ties with India has underscored the need to encourage investment via strong signals to the global business community.

"A consequent return of investor confidence would harness the tremendous power of India's economy to restoring growth levels," the US-India Business Council (USIBC) comprising nearly 400 of America's and India's top companies said Thursday.

Looking toward Finance Minister P. Chidambaram's Feb 28 union budget announcement, the group urged the government of India to take a broad view on the core concerns impacting investment levels in the country.

USIBC also expressed support for any actions in the budget that would expand private sector participation in infrastructure investment, including capital markets incentives and land acquisition reforms.

Citing a return to clarity on controversial tax matters, USIBC commended the framework for the General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR) and indirect taxation recently provided by the Shome Committee, but emphasised that the final rules must be issued soon as investors require certainty that all assurances will be made into law.

The council confirmed that deferment of GAAR implementation until 2016 allows for needed business planning and thus increases investor certainty.

"This year's Budget presents a distinctive opportunity for India to realise the latent potential in long-awaited reforms, including in the insurance, pensions, technology, real estate, and infrastructure sectors," said USIBC President Ron Somers.

"All economic indicators point to now being the right time," he said expressing belief "in the resolve of the government to work through political challenges and kick-start the engine of jobs and opportunity".

USIBC strongly supports the government's continued efforts on the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Somers said, as it believes the GST would dramatically increase government revenue while decreasing the cost of doing business across states, creating a 'win-win' dynamic that will be good for the economy.

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