Source: The Economic Times, Feb 18, 2017
NEW DELHI: Overseas investment in India is likely to surge to a record in the year ending March despite temporary growth hiccups ascribed to the currency swap programme.
This underscores India’s status as an island of economic stability, especially as foreign direct investment (FDI) flows worldwide slumped 13% last year amid uncertainty thanks in part to a backlash against globalisation.
India’s FDI in the April-December period rose 22% to $35.8 billion from the year earlier. With three months to go for the fiscal year end, the government expects fresh inflows into equity to top the $40 billion India got in FY16.
Total FDI — which includes inflows into unincorporated bodies, reinvested earnings and other capital — in the nine months to December is pegged at $48 billion against $55.5 billion for the whole of the last fiscal year.
Services topped the list, accounting for 18% of total FDI in the nine-month period, followed by construction development, telecommunications, computer hardware and automobiles.
The government has liberalised the country’s FDI policy in the last two years to bring several sectors under the automatic approval route as part of efforts to encourage overseas investment.
“Foreign investor interest is continuing to grow in India. We have a lot more queries from them than ever before,” said Ramesh Abhishek, secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).
Invest India, the government’s official investment promotion and facilitation agency, is shepherding proposals worth $62 billion spanning 295 deals, of which $3 billion has already come in.
“The investor has shown confidence in the Indian economy,” said Devraj Singh, executive director, tax and regulatory services, EY.
“Over 90% of FDI is coming in through the automatic route, which has expanded in its scope over the last two years.” According to data released by DIPP on Friday, Mauritius, Singapore, Japan, the UKand US were the top five contributors to FDI inflows.
The surge comes even as the government expects growth to slip to 6.5-6.75% in the current fiscal year from 7.9% in FY16 due to global factors and demonetisation. In the February 1 Budget, the Centre announced its decision to abolish Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) and promised more reforms to make things easier for overseas investors.
“There are more opportunities in India and now a lot more effort to ease processes here.” Experts said that investors are waiting for a turnaround in the fortunes of sectors such as infrastructure and pharmaceuticals, which could encourage a further surge in overseas interest.
The government is yet to announce the modalities of the new system of processing applications that fall under the approval route.