Editorial

Greenfield hopes: On rebound of investments past pre-pandemic levels

The ebbing of the second wave of the pandemic, accompanied by the gradual lifting of restrictions across States, have not only spurred an improvement in several economic indicators but also led to a much-awaited investment revival. Data from investment monitoring firm Projects Today reveal that investment commitments and indicators of actual capital expenditure on the ground recorded a more than robust sequential growth in the July-September quarter after an insipid Q1. Even though enhanced central government infrastructure spending is partly responsible, this uptick is surprising for another reason — the first half of 2021-22 has now seen fresh investments higher than the pre-COVID year of 2019-20, with private capital outlays up nearly 49% to ₹4.87-lakh crore. Whether or not this growth rate is sustained, the implementation of the “PLI” scheme to promote manufacturing investments in India is expected to spur more investments in textiles, pharma, electronics over the second half of this year and 2022-23. Critics may call it a retro-style import substitution push, but if it manages to nudge a few investments away from Vietnam, Cambodia and now, Bangladesh, at a time the world is looking to reduce its China dependence, this is worth the effort. Initial evidence suggests some investors have been converted.

Speedy implementation is, however, essential to ensure the expected gains accrue — of the 13 sectors for which PLIs have been announced, nine have been notified so far, and the others must be spelt out quickly lest global investors pick another destination. The handing over of Air India to the Tata group — the first outright sale of a public sector firm in almost two decades — will ring in some much-needed confidence in the Government’s much-reiterated stance that it has no business to be in business. With its efforts to repair some of the damage to the long-bleeding telecom sector and finally fix the festering folly of pursuing retrospective tax cases that it had termed as ‘tax terrorism’ while in the Opposition, the Government has been making the right noises. These decisions still have to be taken to their respective logical conclusions swiftly, for an enduring shift in perceptions, and outcomes on the ground. Moreover, as it seeks to seal economic partnership pacts or scale up ties with key markets like the EU, the U.S. and the U.K., India needs to also invest some of this energy into improving its image on key socio-economic parameters and the adherence to the ‘rule of law’ while refraining from fresh mistakes and heavy-handed regulations like the much-opposed draft norms for e-commerce. In a world where capital is increasingly influenced by environmental, social and governance standards, these factors merit more policy attention as well.


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Printable version | Dec 9, 2021 2:11:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/greenfield-hopes-on-rebound-of-investments-past-pre-pandemic-levels/article37061443.ece

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