Letter from New Delhi
Dear Overseas Indian Investor, where will you keep your money safely?
In UK? Really, after Brexit and the emerging economic slide?
In USA? What with its huge deficit and debt and slow economy.
OK, in the west, then. What about the almost negative rates of interest after you deduct the inflation from your returns? Plus the global political scenario getting bleaker with increased violence.
So let’s face it, India is the best bet right now. In the current global economic slowdown, India is the fastest growing economy with over seven per cent growth.
Now the big hurdle for investment will soon be removed with the passing of the constitutional bill for the goods and services tax (GST) on 3rd August 2016, marking a historic day in the economic history of the nation. As a major economic reform post the liberalisation of 1991, the passage of the GST bill will finally lead to the realisation of ‘One Nation One Market’ dream.
One overseas Indian auditor called it ‘Brexit in reverse’ which means that while Britain left the bigger market of Europe, India has created its own bigger single market for goods and services. This means more economic growth estimated at between two and three per cent after the bill coming into action targeted for 1 April 2017.
“This is India’s biggest single tax reform since independence,” wrote an Indian management consultant settled in the USA. He added this means
Simply put, it means GST is a single tax on goods and service that includes VAT, service tax, central sales tax, excise duty, entertainment tax, additional customs duty, special customs duty, Octroi and Entry Tax, Purchase Tax, Luxury Tax, and Taxes on lottery, betting and gambling, and many other taxes at state level. GST will simplify taxation system; bring in more revenues and more efficiency.
While transporting goods from one state to another, say from Punjab to Maharashtra, the trucks had to wait for many hours, even days, at tax collection booths to pay the local taxes after arguing and no doubt corruption. Now the trucks will move non-stop across states. Just imagine the time gained!
How does it all impact the overseas Indian investor?
Higher economic growth means better returns for investment. With the GST now a fait accompli, India can throw up immense opportunities of growth in the decade ahead. India seems to be at the cusp of a great new era of economic growth and development and this bodes well for investors to look at equity investments as a powerful tool for long-term wealth creation.
When overseas Indians deposit their savings in India, they get higher returns than in the west. When they invest in equities or mutual funds, they will get even better returns as the market will become more bullish and when they invest in industry, the single market will bring higher profits.
The digital infrastructure for collecting GST is claimed to be in place but the tax officials have to be re-trained by April 2017. The real test of GST will however lie in its implementation. If India fails in the proper implementation of GST, then it may end with little or no benefit in economic growth and lower inflation.
However, the chances are that the Modi government that worked so hard to get GST bill passed will make it a success. And that makes India the top destination for diaspora funds and investment.
Kul Bhushan worked as a newspaper Editor in Nairobi for over three decades and now lives in New Delhi