US urges Modi govt to take more steps on eco reforms

SansadTV Bureau

FILE: US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal.

Backing the economic initiatives of the incumbent BJP-led NDA government, the US governed urged India to ease it business environment further to attract investments from across the world including the US. This is first time since Modi government came to power at the Centre, that US government has expressed keenness to see India easing its tax regime and also the key GST bill.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken a big stand on the global stage on essentially talking about India and its economic journey,” said US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal.

Noting there has been a huge amount of interest in the US private sector ever since PM Modi came to power, Ms Biswal said, “I think, the Prime Minister is probably the greatest brand ambassador for India in attracting that kind of economic interest.”

The world is looking for Indian economy to be a driver and engine of growth, not just for India but for the region and the world, she said also adding that Modi-led government take quite a number of measures in this regard.

“Whether it is enough or not, it is not for me to judge. I think, the judge of that is in the flow of investments coming in,” Nisha Biswal added.

Responding to a question on the steps that Modi government now needs to take on economic reforms, she emphasised that creating a more transparent and predictable tax structure is critical.

“I understand that the GST (Goods and Services Tax) bill is a priority for the government and we hope that there will be a movement in that, because that would be a very important step in that direction,” she said.

“Certainly, I think, you have seen an uptick in FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) and FII (Foreign Institutional Investor), but it is not sufficient to fuel the ambitious agenda that the Indian government has laid out for itself,” Ms Biswal further said.

Though the Assistant Secretary of State did acknowledge that some progress has been made and certainly there are places where it is easier to invest, she also spoke of areas where investors are still facing some “obstacles”.

“So those are all challenges that need to be tackled,” she said ahead of the inaugural India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue to be held in Washington on September 21 and 22.

The government has set April 1, 2016 as the roll out date for the indirect tax reform GST, which will subsume excise and service tax and other local levies. The key indirect taxation reform GST Bill has been hanging fire since since 2006-07. The last few weeks have seem Modi government giving push to the legislation on GST but matters are yet to see any headway.

Major opposition has come from the Congress party and the Left from, which has been opposing the GST bill citing disagreements on certain provisions. The bill, though cleared in the Lok Sabha, is yet to be tabled in Rajya Sabha.

(With inputs from the PTI)