B K Modi, chairman of Smart Group and Singapore-based Spice Global, announced the launch of the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) Forum with a proposed fund size of USD 100 billion, with a focus on promoting global economic investment by OCIs into various sectors in India. The OCI platform has the potential to increase India's GDP by 50 per cent and it is undertaking large-scale investment in Kashmir as one of its first projects, Modi said here at a press meet.
Modi said that in its first project, the OCI investor forum will undertake investment in the region of Kashmir to develop 100 global wellness hotels in Kashmir estimated at a gross investment of Rs 1,000 crore. Two seminal events were held in May and June 2019 in New Delhi and Srinagar to promote investment in Kashmir, prior to the government's announcement on Article 370, the forum said.
The OCI initiative will aid the development of a 'New India' as a USD 5 trillion economy by acting as a bridge to allow global Indians an opportunity to ‘give back to their homeland. Also because OCIs are possibly the most politically neutral community because they are not permitted to donate to any political party, this ensures that their investments are more positively motivated rather than politically motivated, it added.
"Foreign Direct Investment is the key to the development of a USD 5 trillion economy as envisioned by the current government and avenues that support clean money trickling in from OCIs need to be supported. OCIs can play an impactful role in creating a corruption free, New India but they must be encouraged by the government through various policy initiatives," Modi said. "With the OCI Investor Forum, we are targeting to raise the GDP 50 per cent over the next five years through investment in various areas such as healthcare and wellness hotels, exponential technology and hospitality among others," he added.
To ensure that OCIs can tend to their investments, develop more profitable Indian enterprises and participate in the economic development of the country, they should be allowed to spend more time in the country, the investment forum demanded. "The forum recommends altering the permissible limit that OCIs can stay in India without affecting their status. Presently, OCIs can stay in the country for a period of 182 days without getting taxed on their global income earned outside India. This limit must be increased to at least 270 days to incentivise them to invest in the country," it said.
Among others, the OCI Forum said that the investors should be allowed to safeguard their interests in India and be ensured that they have the most convenient, secure and efficient policy guidelines overseeing their investments. "Policy decisions need to be made to ensure OCIs are granted immunity and relaxation for the ease of doing business in the country. In order to ensure they can contribute to their best economically, they must be given a separate diplomatic category, and not be clubbed with either NRIs or foreigners.
"Since OCIs are subject to laws of their own countries, they should therefore lie outside the ambit of investigation bodies like IT, ED and CBI etc," the forum said. It also proposed removing FDI cap across all sectors for OCI investment and the creation of state backed sovereign funds to invest in.
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