Singapore: Singapore-based banks are beefing up their operations to manage the USD 25 billion wealth of the city state's 300,000 non-resident Indians (NRI), who have an investment preference for Indian securities and the rupee.

A report on Thursday said the number of NRIs with an appetite for investment in India was growing, especially as more and more Indian enterprises locate to Singapore to benefit from the India-Singapore double taxation treaty for their regional businesses.

This NRI investment trend has given reasons to international banks to expand their India desks, bringing in high-level financial experts to help manage the wealth of the Singapore-based NRIs, around 5,000 of whom are high-net worth individuals.

The banks' investment experts on India "are also in an advantageous position, as Singapore is 2-1/2 hours ahead of India, which gives the advantage of being reasonably aligned with the Indian time zone," said the Singapore daily report, quoting banking officials.

Though the NRI population in Singapore and Hong Kong is not comparable to that of the United States, United Arab Emirates and Britain in terms of sheer size, the business volumes have made Singapore more important than Switzerland, once rated as the main source of NRI investment into India.

Singapore's estimated NRI wealth of USD 25 billion is also small vis-a-vis global NRIs' combined wealth of USD 500 billion, but the city state is nonetheless an important centre for banks from the perspective of NRI coverage, Srinivas Siripurapu, Head of South-East Asia and South Asia at Barclays Wealth in Singapore, was quoted as saying.