India can’t reinvent language of liability, says GE chief

Subsidies in power sector need to be lowered: Immelt.

September 22, 2015 02:18 am | Updated November 16, 2021 05:00 pm IST - New Delhi:

Unless an agreement is reached with the U.S. on “common language” on the civil nuclear liability law, General Electric will not invest in India’s nuclear energy industry, CEO Jeff Immelt said here on Monday.

“The world has an established liability regime … it has been accepted and adopted … I can’t put my company on risk … India can’t reinvent the language on liability,” Mr. Immelt told a select press briefing, following a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is scheduled to visit the U.S. later this month.

Mr. Immelt also said that GE, the world’s largest infrastructure company with a revenue of $146 billion in 2012-13, would like to see reforms that the Modi government had initiated to continue.

In particular, he said, subsidies in the electricity sector needed to be lowered so that prices were more market-determined. “India could have fuel independence but prices paid for natural gas are too low for investments.”

For all homes to be electrified by 2024, as announced by Mr. Modi, Mr. Immelt said, the distributors must earn enough money. “Prices need to go to levels that will justify the investments needed in the sector…if the tariffs don’t change you won’t get the kind of reinvestments that this country needs…There is no magic wand.”

Huge opportunity

Expressing optimism, he said, India represented huge opportunity that remained untapped and should be growing faster.

“I have been a GE person for 33 years and this is the fifth time I am seeing momentum in India but it is the first time I think it will take off ... PM Modi has such hope on his shoulders…the hope of India and of the world…I haven’t seen anything like it,” he said.

GE that set up India’s first hydropower plant in Karnataka in 1902, was interested in commercial and military aviation, renewable energy as well as oil and gas and also saw a big opportunity in Mr. Modi’s ‘Make in India’, Mr. Immelt said.

“New things are going on…there are new big opportunities in India after quite a long time…sectors like renewable energy which did not even exist 4-5 years ago are now accelerating and offer great promise.”

GE announced a $200-million multi-modal manufacturing facility in Pune this year. It delivers localised products and solutions here and also feeds GE’s global supply chain. The company is also partnering with various States, especially for healthcare to form public-private partnerships.

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