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Updated: February 12, 2011 02:23 IST

Austria, India can forge greater ties: Prammer

T. Ramakrishnan
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For TAMIL NADU BUREAU: Barbara Prammer, Head of Parliamentary Delegation from Austria in Chennai. Photo: K_V_Srinivasan
THE HINDU For TAMIL NADU BUREAU: Barbara Prammer, Head of Parliamentary Delegation from Austria in Chennai. Photo: K_V_Srinivasan

Austria and India can forge greater business ties in a host of areas such as pharmaceuticals, steel, clean energy, automobile and tourism, according to Barbara Prammer, president of the Austrian National Council.

Ms. Prammer, who has come on an invitation from Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, told The Hindu on Friday that over 100 Austrian enterprises were now functioning in India and the cooperation between the two countries was very positive. She is heading a delegation of parliamentarians.

The Austrian National Council President, who had covered New Delhi and Hyderabad, said she had visited some of the business enterprises.

On return, she would tell her country's industrialists and business people to be in close touch with their Indian counterparts. Ms. Kumar had told her that India would be interested in Austrian banks.

She acknowledged that immediately after the end of the Cold War, the Austrian business community was paying greater attention to East European countries “which are our neighbours.” Of late, the ties with India were also growing.

Later, delivering a talk at a meeting organised by the Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry, she said that in 2008, there was a “record rise” of 15.6 per cent in Austrian exports to India to the tune of about Euro 610 million. Indian exports to Austria amounted to around Euro 416 million.

In 2009, the Austrian exports fell by around 8.8 per cent due to the global financial crisis, but Indian exports rose by 5.2 per cent. However, the next year, business picked up with the first 10 months showing an increase in Austrian exports by more than 13 per cent.

Supports State funding

Ms. Prammer, who belongs to the Social Democratic Party, was emphatic in her support to the idea of State funding of political parties.

Emphasising that the parties required funds to carry out their activities, she said the funding had to be done in a transparent manner.

Talking of the parliamentary system in Austria, she said it was comparable to those of Germany and northern European countries.

The voting system was based on the system of party-list proportional representation. The National Council (which is the Lower House) had 183 members with five parties.

It generally met 10 months a year. One week a month, plenary sessions were being held; and two weeks a month, different committees' meetings were held too. Finance Bills were not sent to the Upper House, she added.

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