India eases foreign investment rules in new reform push

NEW DELHI, July 16, 2013 (AFP) – A group of Indian cabinet ministers late on Tuesday cleared plans to remove the foreign investment cap in telecoms and relax overseas ownership rules in a host of sectors in a new economic reforms push. Economists say India needs foreign investment to spur growth and also to close its wide current account deficit — the broadest measure of international trade — that has alarmed global credit ratings agencies.

To improve India’s investment attractiveness, economists say the government must reduce the country’s burdensome red tape, speed up slow project approvals and lessen widespread corruption.

The government has been dogged by a string of graft scandals during its second term in office, which has derailed many of its efforts to push through promised pro-market reforms.

Last year, the government opened up the supermarket, civil aviation and broadcasting sectors to wider foreign investment in a burst of reforms after being accused of policy paralysis. The moves are aimed wooing investors and kickstarting the struggling economy before the scandal-tainted Congress government faces voters in general elections due by May 2014.

“We expect more foreign direct investment to flow in with the