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    How can Budget 2011-12 reverse the FDI slump?

    India's foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows dipped sharply in 2010 by 22 per cent at $21 billion compared to $27 billion in 2009.In an interview with CNBC-TV18's Karan Thapar, well-known economist Bibek Debroy; member of Prime Ministers Economic Advisory Council Suman Bery and Rajiv Kumar the director general of FICCI discuss how the budget can reverse the slump in FDI.Below is the verbatim transcript of the interview on CNBC-TV18.CNBC-TV18: Figures suggest that FDI’s received by India in 2010 has gone down sharply. If you go by the Industry Ministry’s figures they have fallen by 22 per cent but of you go by UNCTAD they have fallen perhaps by as much as 32 per cent. How worrying is this?Debroy: It’s worrying but it’s not just FDI that’s the concern. The concern is also on the domestic investments. They have not been doing that well either. Another way of looking at it is, since recovery from the financial crisis of 2007-2008, investments have never gone back up. One reason for that is, not just the nitty-gritty of the second generation reform but also the general climate of uncertainty.Consequently, a lot of the investment decisions are not fructifying. The intensions are not being operationalised. Some of it is also related particularly to the environment clearances which RBI itself flagged.CNBC-TV18: At his interaction with TV Editors on February 16, the Prime Minister suggested that the decline in FDI was part of a global decline but, if you look at the UNCTAD figures it emerges that India is the only Asian economy to have seen a decline in FDI. Others have seen increases of 6 per cent in the case of China, going up to 410 per cent in the case of Malaysia, with Singapore at 123 per cent, Indonesia at 160 per cent. So, why is it that India is suffering whilst the rest of Asia is gaining?Bery: You associated me with the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council and we have released our report yesterday. We have made a point in the final section of the report that this is something to be concerned about, but not to be too concerned about.Taking example of the BP tie-up with Reliance, this stuff tends to be lumpy and what will be its outcome at the end of the year we don’t know. The point that Bibek Debroy is that taken over time this is some kind of a barometer of the investment climate as seen by foreigners. Therefore, it is something to be taken note of but not yet I would argue a source of alarm.CNBC-TV18: In contrast to the FDI decline that happened in 2010 the Wall Street Journal says and I am quoting, “FDI nearly doubled in the years just before the global financial crisis and even when the markets began to collapse in 2008 FDI received by India grew at a healthy 72 per cent.” So would you agree with Suman Bery that this something to be taken note of but not a cause of major concern or are you actually far more concerned than he is?Kumar: I am more concerned than what Suman is. Especially, because some of the major sectors like construction, real estate, telecom, power have seen substantial decline of around 50 per cent. According to me, this reflects worsening of the investment climate in this country which is a major concern.The other thing is, the number of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approvals between April and December has come down and the values have gone up because that's the sort of pipeline as it were. Suman Bery said that we don't know how the year will end is perhaps, reflected in the decline in the FIPB approvals.Bibek's point is also very relevant which is, domestic investment in manufacturing sector apart from the infrastructure investments has actually been very weak and very anemic. The investment climate going down and then with the Prime Ministers council coming up with a 9 per cent growth target, there is a contradiction here. I remain quite concerned about the FDI and general investment decline.