India committed to expediting reforms: FM tells US investors

Washington: Trying to hardsell India, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Monday assured the US business community that the country`s growth story was intact and it was committed to expediting reforms and further liberalisation of the foreign investment regime.

“India`s economic reforms have contributed to the Indian growth story… Overall GDP in 2010-11 has been estimated at 8.5 per cent. The economy is expected to maintain the growth momentum at the same level in 2011-12,” he told a gathering of corporate leaders and policymakers at the `US-India Economic and Financial Partnership` conference here.

The minister further said that discussions were underway to build consensus on “further liberalisation of the FDI policy in the retail and defence sectors.”

US businessmen are keenly looking at opening of the multi-brand retail sector to foreign investment and the issue was likely to come up during the bilateral meeting between Mukherjee and US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

As part of the major initiative, the minister told the conference, being organised jointly by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Brookings Institute, that India has completely liberalised “pricing and payment of technology transfer fee, trademark, and brand name and royalty payments”.

Although the economy is on a high growth path, Mukherjee said the challenge is to sustain GDP expansion in light of global developments and contain domestic inflation, which is hovering at around 9 per cent.