Modi Vows to Ensure Friendlier India for Foreign Factories

  • Pledges predictable tax regime, effective patent system
  • Coca Cola unit, Saab, Jain Irrigation, Kalyani arm sign MOUs

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during part of the opening ceremony of 'Make in India Week' in Mumbai on Feb. 13, 2016. Photographer: Punit Paranjpe/AFP/Getty Images

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to untangle India’s byzantine regulations and stay away from retrospective taxation as he looks to boost manufacturing and create jobs in the world’s second-most populous country.

Speaking to an audience in Mumbai on Saturday that included Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Loefven and Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipili, Modi exhorted global companies to set up shop in India. His government is working swiftly toward setting up a transparent and predictable tax regime, Modi said, and will soon put in place an effective patent and intellectual property regime.

Narendra Modi during the opening ceremony of Make in India week

Photographer: Punit Paranjpe/AFP/Getty Images

"India is blessed with three Ds; these are democracy, demography and demand," Modi said, after performers in traditional garb danced in front of a giant screen flashing images of mega sky scrapers and bullet trains. "To these we have added the fourth D: that is deregulation."

Investors could catch a glimpse of Modi’s vision when his government unveils its budget on Feb. 29. In past years he’s opened sectors including defense and railways to more foreign investment to boost the share of manufacturing in the economy to about 25 percent from 18 percent under his flagship Make in India campaign.

He also said he wants to do it in a cleaner and greener way, as Indian cities battle record pollution levels and back-to-back years of poor rainfall erodes rural incomes. Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt., a unit of the global group, signed an agreement with Jain Irrigation Pvt. to open an orange juice factory in drought-hit Vidarbha.

Agreements were also signed between billionaire Anil Agarwal’s Twin Star Holdings and Maharashtra Industrial Development Corp. for a proposed 200 billion rupee ($3 billion) investment to create India’s first LCD panel factory. Raymond Ltd. and MIDC also agreed to invest 14 billion rupees for a linen factory and Sweden’s Saab AB and a unit of Bharat Forge Ltd. announced plans for a joint venture to make air defense systems.

“There is no time for incremental changes," Modi said. "We want a quantum jump."

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