Indian investment moves marred by steel pullouts

MUMBAI, July 21, 2013 (AFP) – India may be trying to lure foreign investors to revive its ailing economy, but the axing of two mega steel projects underlines obstacles even industry giants face, analysts say.

Although industrialisation is championed as a way to pull tens of millions of Indians out of poverty, many farmers complain they are being forced to sell their land at below market rates and are being robbed of their livelihoods.

Earlier this year the government drafted a land acquisition bill to better reward landowners whose property is bought for industrial development, but consensus on the bill has so far eluded lawmakers.

Chandrajit Banerjee, director general of the Confederation of Indian Industry, said further issues troubling foreign investors included tax structures, some of them retrospective.

Notably souring sentiment has been British mobile firm Vodafone’s embroilment in a multi-billion-dollar tax dispute with Indian authorities over its 2007 purchase of a stake in a domestic telecoms company.

“There needs to be an improvement in the overall investment climate to reap the full dividend of the easing of FDI norms,” said Banerjee. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and top minist