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Thursday 23 February, 2017, 12:45 pm
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Vibrant Gujarat 2017: PM Narendra Modi To Open Summit, Mukesh Ambani, Ratan Tata As Key Speakers

GANDHINAGAR:  For the second time after Prime Minister Narendra Modi won the national election and relocated to Delhi, the Vibrant Gujarat summit is being held in the state capital of Gandhinagar. PM Modi will address the event at about 5.20 pm. His audience of nearly 15,000 will include the heads of foreign governments, Nobel Prize Winners, Corporate India bosses including Mukesh Ambani, Ratan Tata (who are also speakers at the event) and Anil Ambani, and the heads of internet giants like Flipkart. The summit will last four days.

The summit, held once every two years, was launched in 2003 by PM Modi while he was Chief Minister of Gujarat. He successfully pitched Gujarat as the ideal destination for investment, promising minimal red-tape and manufacturing incentives. However, only a fraction of the billions of dollars pledged in investment at each edition of the summit have materialised.

Last time, the summit secured investment proposals of 366 billion dollars or 25 lakh crores. Gujarat expects to top that this year, reports the Press Trust of India.

"The Gujarat government pegs the conversion rate at almost 70 percent and some of India's biggest businesses including Reliance Industries Ltd. and the Adani Group said last month that they have fulfilled most of their commitments," reports Bloomberg, adding that the opposition Congress insists the conversion rate is below 10 per cent.

Last year, the PM's home state lost its top position in the ease-of-business rankings of Indian states; it fell to No 3 while Telangana and Andhra Pradesh were joint winners.

Other states, such as Maharashtra that doesn't hold a comparable investor meet, has seen projects increase over the recent years. Maharashtra also attracted the most foreign direct investment -- 30 per cent of India's total between 2000-2016 -- while Gujarat ranked fifth with 4 per cent.

The summit is being held right after the PM's abrupt demonetisation drive, which cancelled 500 and 1,000-rupee notes at just a few hours' notice, triggering a cash shortage that, while improved, is far from resolved.

Different sectors like manufacturing have reported a slowdown and economists have slashed growth forecasts to about 6.4 percent for the new financial year that starts in April (down from over 7.5 percent).

But Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said yesterday that tax collection has increased substantially over last year, dismissing reports of economic disruption after the notes ban. In the first three quarters of the fiscal year that ends in March, overall indirect tax collections were up 25 percent from a year earlier. Direct tax receipts during the same period were up 12.01 percent year-on-year, he said.

The Finance Minister and RBI Governor Urjit Patel are scheduled to address a session tomorrow on the landmark tax reform, the National Goods and Services Tax or GST, which has been stalled by the opposition and is unlikely to meet its planned rollout date of April 1.  

Yesterday, PM Modi inaugurated a new stock exchange in Gujarat which offers trading 22 hours a day. The International Exchange will trade a range of financial instruments, including equities, commodities and currency, in Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT), been created to spearhead India's push to attract more foreign investment.

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