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London mayor backs India's FDI decision on retail, insurance

Wednesday, 28 November 2012 - 7:07pm IST | Place: Hyderabad | Agency: PTI
Boris Johnson backed the government's decision to open up the insurance and multi-brand retail sectors to FDI, saying it might augur well for the poor even as he suggested that India can experiment with more "openness".

Visiting London Mayor Boris Johnson today backed the Indian government's decision to open up the insurance and multi-brand retail sectors to FDI, saying it might augur well for the poor even as he suggested that India can experiment with more "openness".

"If a multiple-brand retailer can help people access food cheaply and securely with less anxiety about the price then again you are helping to increase, not diminish the wealth of some of the poorest people in the country," Johnson, who is leading a business delegation to India, said in his address at the Indian School of Business, here.

"If a British insurance company is able to help reduce premiums for households for medical insurance for an Indian person with modest income, then that person will be able to spend the larger share of his wealth on other forms of consumption. That would benefit the economy," he said.

"I would humbly and respectfully suggest there are more ways in which India could experiment with more openness," he said.

Carrying forward the big-ticket reforms agenda, the government recently decided to move ahead with its proposal to hike foreign investment ceiling in the insurance sector to 49% from the present 26%.

It also had allowed 51% foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail but left it to the states to permit opening of foreign funded stores.

London's technological sector had grown from virtually nil to employ more than 40,000 people, Johnson said.

"It happened because people of brilliance and energy, many of them of Indian origin, came to London because they like the feel of the place and have made their home there," he added.

Johnson said the critical thing in a global economy is to find the place and people who will add value in the most efficient and competitive way.

As part of their tour in India, the Mayor said they have been able to convince two hotel groups into investing in London hospitality sector.

Replying to query, he said a city mayor has to have control over the police, security, system for the safety and security of citizens.


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