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September 26, 2017

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India's PM forges ahead with economic reforms

NEW DELHI -- India's embattled Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pushed ahead Thursday with his make-or-break reform agenda as the government prepared to approve the latest batch of measures to open up the economy.

Despite fierce resistance from opposition parties who are threatening to try to bring down the coalition in the next parliamentary session, Singh appeared intent on more moves aimed at reviving the flagging economy.

At a cabinet meeting later Thursday, the cabinet is set to approve foreign direct investment (FDI) in the insurance and pensions sectors following similar moves for the aviation, broadcasting and retail industries last month.

"Measures like opening the pension sector to foreign investment and raising the FDI cap in insurance to 49 percent will be announced," a finance ministry official told AFP on Wednesday on condition of anonymity.

Singh and his reformist new finance minister, P. Chidambaram, have stressed the need to revive foreign and domestic investment to get India's economy moving again after a slump in GDP growth and worries about the budget deficit.

"The government has to take a number of decisions. As we take these decisions it will be clear that we are on the reform path and we will continue on that path," Chidambaram told the BBC in an interview broadcast on Wednesday.

"I think we will return to 9-percent growth once we address certain fundamental constraints."

Other measures to be announced Thursday include the setting up of a national investment board.

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