India needs to further ease its business processes to boost investments, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today while inviting foreign sovereign wealth funds to be part of the country’s infrastructure, pension and insurance funds. He also assured investors here that the government has resolved various legacy issues with regard to taxation and is gradually working to bring down the corporate tax rates to the global level of 25 percent from 30 percent currently. Jaitley admitted that the country has been impacted by global trade shrinkages, but said that various reform measures including opening up of sectors to greater FDI have ensured a high GDP growth of over 7.5 percent. Terming ‘ease of doing business’ in India as an “important work which is still in progress”, Jaitley said the Modi government has been able to straighten several laws and is trying to make taxation systems compatible with the global standards. Addressing the Sydney campus of S P Jain School of Global Management after arriving here this morning on a four-day visit to Australia, Jaitley said the NDA government has been able to make headway in eliminating corruption and is working on removing discretions of all forms. Speaking on ‘Reimagining the Indian Economy’, Jaitley said the global trade shrinkages has impacted India too in terms of uncertainties in stock and currency markets. “Opening of the Indian economy and sectors like insurance, railways, defence and several others which were earlier unavailable for FDI has helped us,” he said. He said that for India, the system was to get approval from multiple authorities which could frustrate the investors. “I can’t claim that we have achieved everything but I think there is a greater realisation in India that in the competitive world today not only to attract foreign investors but also persuading domestic investors, we will have to ease our business processes,” he said adding, “that’s an important work which is still in progress as far as India is concerned”. Jaitley also said the government is now working on direct tax systems where “we want to put the disputes behind us”, a reference to cases involving the likes of Vodafone and Cairn. “We want people to clean up their tax issues. And therefore, in this Budget I have also suggested various windows of clearing up pending disputes,” Jaitley said. He said the government is working to bring down India’s corporate tax rates gradually to a fair international level which will involve “no discretion, no rent-seeking exemption, phasing all of them out gradually and then bringing taxation rate to a flat 25 percent”.
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