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Cameron announces to ease visa norms

Mumbai:  Out to woo Indian businesses and students, British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday announced his country would introduce same-day visa services for investors and said there would be no limit on the number of students from here studying there.
    
"We have the biggest visa operations anywhere else in the world right here in India. I announce that we are going to introduce for businesses a same-day visa service to those who want to come to our country and invest...," Cameron told India Inc at Hotel Taj, the country's hospitality icon.
    
On the issue of Indian students in Britain, he said there is "no limit" on the number of Indian students who can come and study in universities there and also no cap on the length of time they can stay and work in graduate-level jobs after they qualified.
    
Cameron, who is accompanied by the largest-ever trade delegation, also said India should continue to reduce trade barriers to create better opportunities for British companies.
    
"Britain is looking to take down the (trade) barriers ...we want the Indian government to continue to open up trade barriers and make it easier to do business here...We have to make sure that just as we welcome Indian investments into Britain, it is easier for British companies like banking, retail etc to invest in this vibrant and fast growing economy," he said.
    
The British premier also said there are great opportunities for Indian companies to invest in Britain.
    
"When I see Indian investment into Britain, I only see hope...investment like Jaguar and Land Rover, which is a massive international success story...We welcome that sort of investments," Cameron said, adding his country seeks to be the most investor-friendly market.
    
On his second state visit to the country in under three years, Cameron also called for the need to forge greater partnership with India as the British economy is starting to recover from recession.
    
"The time to forge partnership is now as the British economy has started to recover from difficulties of last two years and the Indian economy powers ahead (to become) one of the great powers," he said.

Cameron backs Mumbai-Bangalore corridor

Cameron said he wanted his country's companies to help India develop new cities and districts along a 1,000 km (600 mile) corridor between Mumbai and Bangalore, generating investment projects worth up to USD 25 billion.

Cameron said he wanted British firms to work with the Indian and British governments to develop nine districts to link Mumbai, India's financial capital, with Bangalore, its tech hub.

"With me I've got architects, planners and finance experts who can work out the complete solution," he told an audience of business people and workers at Hindustan Unilever Limited.

"It would unleash India's potential along the 1,000 km from Mumbai to Bangalore, transforming lives and putting British businesses in prime position to secure valuable commercial deals."

India should open up its markets to allow foreign direct investment in hitherto closed sectors, he added.

His office said forecasts showed 5.8 percent of India's population growth would be in the corridor, contributing 11.8 percent of the country's gross domestic product growth by 2020.

The first phase of the project would involve investment in physical infrastructure, such as transport networks, telecommunications and power generation. Later construction would concentrate on social infrastructure such as welfare and education.

India has pushed the building of giant development "corridors" to accelerate the growth of its manufacturing base, which has lagged behind its IT and services industry.

The government has also planned to build 24 new industrial cities along a 1,483 km (920 mile) railway line between New Delhi and Mumbai with Japanese funding, but the project has progressed slowly.

Cameron's office said British and Indian officials had been working with business representatives from the two countries on the Mumbai-Bangalore project since last year and had produced an initial assessment of its scale and potential.

The British government would be willing to co-fund a feasibility study, on a match funding basis, with the Indian government costing up to 1 million pounds.

By 2030, if realized, the project could generate close to half a million jobs, while indirect jobs could bring the total in the region to two million, Cameron's office said.

"Our initial scoping work suggests that accommodating the 3-4 million people attracted to each of the new cities would require close to 1 million new homes, up to 120 schools, 10 colleges and hospitals," the office said.

(Agencies)

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