Allaying fears of delay in clearances, India today promised foreign investors that it will approve oil and gas projects "in 30 days flat" as it invited Gulf businesses to take advantage of investment opportunities in the country.
"I share your concern in delay in clearances. We are working seriously in that direction. The first meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Investment examined projects in the oil and gas and decisions will be taken in 30 days flat," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said while addressing the India Business Meet.
Expressing India's determination to carry forward the economic reform programme, Sharma said that the Indian government has taken several initiatives in the past to rationalise and simplify Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) procedures.
The minister further said that efforts were being made to revert to 9 per cent growth path. The economy in the current financial year is expected to decline to 5 per cent from 6.2 per cent in 2011-12.
"Once things improve, we need to have double digit growth and sustain it for at least two-and-half decades. This is important from the point of view of sustained growth and social needs of providing jobs to a young population," he said, adding India's economic fundamentals are strong and its growth story is intact.
As regards the taxation issues, Sharma said, "Government is working on it and Goods and Services Tax is being pushed with all sincerity".
Referring to the immense possibility of the economic engagement between the two countries, Sharma said that the establishment of a High-Level Task Force, co-chaired by Sheikh Hamed Bin Zayed Al Nehayan and himself would help in developing "avenues of catalysing greater investments on both sides."
The minister also welcomed the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth funds to invest in the Indian economy.
"Our economies are also defined by complementary strengths. It is these complementary strengths, which we must build upon as two people bound by ties of history to write a new essay of economic partnership in the 21st century," the he said.
Noting that bilateral trade between India and the GCC region rose to above $145 billion in 2011-12 from $67 billion five years ago, Sharma said, "I expect that with the kind of dynamism which has been shown in our trade established with UAE, this year we will cross $175 billion."
Later Sharma held a bilateral meeting with Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of Foreign Trade, UAE, during which the possibility of increasing the bilateral trade between the two nations was discussed.
Noting that UAE was India's top partner amongst the GCC countries and the second largest trading partner for India in the world after China, Sharma said "the bilateral trade does not reflect the full potential and can be further exploited to mutual advantage of both the countries."
The minister also underlined the need for reenergising the negotiations for concluding the India-GCC FTA talks pointing out that the capital flow between the regions has remained miniscule.
Sharma said that there was immense potential for increasing investments from UAE in India, especially in infrastructure sector such as power and utilities, roads and highways, ports, aviation, telecommunications and urban infrastructure.
He also emphasised that India was "committed to strengthening and expanding cooperation with UAE in other sectors such as construction, downstream products in the petroleum and natural gas sector, agriculture and food processing, science & technology, renewable energy, IT, education, training, health and financial services."
Highlighting the fact that India is a major exporter of textiles, Sharma expressed the hope that the UAE Government would give a special concessional treatment to textile imports from India.
The minister further said that several Indian companies want to invest in UAE in energy intensive manufacturing, infrastructure, services, tourism and hospitality, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, financial services, agro-based value chain and education.