The exposure from Qatar side to Indian market is limited but is increasing, ambassador said, participating in a panel discussion ‘Financing India – with focus on Qatar’
New opportunities for financing relationships between India and Qatar will emerge with India promoting long-term investments, the country’s ambassador Dr Deepak Mittal has said.
He was participating in a panel discussion on "Financing India – With Focus on Qatar", which was organised by Free Press Journal and SIES in association with Invest India recently.
Dr Mittal said, “The exposure from the Qatar side to the Indian market is limited but it is increasing. India has improved its ranking on the ease of doing business score and amended policies mainly related to the Finance Act, which allows long-term investments by sovereign wealth funds (SWFs), especially in the priority infrastructure projects. Other measures were also being undertaken, and these will open up new opportunities for financing relationships between India and Qatar.”
Besides the Indian ambassador, the panellists included Dr R Seetharaman, Group CEO, Doha Bank and Gopal Balasubramaniam, partner and head (Audit) at KPMG in Qatar.
The session was moderated by RN Bhaskar and the closing remarks were delivered by Vaneeta Raney, head of BMM department, SIES.
The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) manages over $300bn worth of sovereign wealth funds globally.
“2019-2020 has been a good year for India as far as getting the attention of QIA is concerned,” stated Balasubramaniam. “Prior to that, investments into India have been sluggish as investments did not do well in the past.”
But Balasubramaniam is optimistic that “QIA may revisit its India strategy and is presently on discussions for considering investing $1.5bn in Reliance Jio and might look at investing in the Unicorns as there is tremendous opportunity in India for the startup ventures.”
Understanding the pattern of the QIA funding model, Mittal said, “There is good interest in the healthcare, capital market, technology, pharmaceutical, among other sectors (in the case of investments). But it looks at projects which are mature and have less interest in green and brownfield projects.”
On greenfield projects in India, Balasubramaniam stated that India has been religiously investing in gas infrastructure to convert India into a gas-based economy.
"India’s gas consumption in the next 15-20 years will grow 2.5 times by 2040. About $120bn to $150bn investments are expected in the next five to six years. Around $300bn is expected in the next two decades’ in the gas sector alone."
Gopal added that while there are opportunities in the hydrocarbon sector, Qatar should look at more strategic investments in India's key sectors under ‘Atmanirbhar’ (self-reliant India programme) namely pharmaceutical, automobile, and chemical and consumer electronics.
While Mittal and Gopal were suggesting ways to attract sovereign funds to India, Seetharaman suggested that India should work with Gulf countries to develop GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) Development Bank or Gulf-India Development Bank and GCC NRI fund.
He mentioned that managing $500bn paid-up capital, by GCC Development Bank or Gulf-India Development Bank, is an opportunity.
“It is time that you convert the debt into equity.”
Seetharaman further stated, “I suggest the GCC NRI Fund. It can be set up using sovereign funds and NRI base.”
“Globally, there are $6.6tn sovereign funds and from that $2.2tn lies in the Gulf. Qatar is managing around $300bn,” Seetharaman said and suggested this was an opportunity that India should tap.