Friday, July 13, 2012

Foreign investors face challenges

Straits Times: Thu, Jul 12

SINGAPORE business space provider Ascendas has been in India for 18 years but still worries about policies changing, governance requirements and the lack of infrastructure.

Ascendas has progressed from a single joint venture to investing in real estate, managing funds and providing asset services. Mr Thomas Teo, chief executive officer of Ascendas India, said: 'We believe in the business potential resulting from India's cost-efficient labour pool, particularly for IT software work, the rising middle class and the opportunities created from an economy with a big population growing off a low base.'

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted the challenges that foreign investors encounter. He urged India to do more to improve its investment climate.

He said: 'Investors into India rely on good governance, a predictable regulatory regime, and a hassle-free, rules-based business environment before making major long-term commitments.'

Agreeing, Singapore Business Federation chief executive officer Ho Meng Kit said that as with any emerging market, 'frequent changes to policies, regulations and taxation are some of the key concerns of foreign investors'.

Other challenges include the sharp and growing regional variations among India's different states and territories in terms of poverty, availability of infrastructure and socio-economic development, he added.

Mr Lee said he would like to see India further liberalise its air services agreement with Singapore to meet increased demand from passengers.

Both Mr Lee and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh later announced that they had agreed to speed up a second review of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement between Singapore and India.

Dr Singh said he also assured Mr Lee that India is committed to being investment friendly and welcomes more Singapore investments, particularly in infrastructure where the city state has great expertise.

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