"It is my conviction that tax stability is essential for confidence building," Modi told the chiefs of top US companies over a breakfast meet, among them Google chairman Eric Schmidt, Citigroup chief Michael Corbat, Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga, Pepsico's Indra Nooyi, Cargill's David W MacLennan, Caterpillar's Douglas Oberhelman, Merck's Kenneth Frazier, Carlyle Group's David Rubenstein, and Warburg Pincus' Charles Kaye. He also met CEOs of six other companies, including Boeing, IBM, and GE, in oneon-one meetings.
Modi's comment on a stable tax regime comes amidst severe criticism of the UPA's policies, including retrospective amendments to the law to claim taxes from Vodafone after it acquired Hutch's telecom assets in India. Modi and his team have not shied away from referring to the policies as "tax terrorism".
Asking the CEOs to be part of India's growth story, Modi pledged to smoothen the path for them. "Infrastructu re development is a big opportunity; it creates jobs & enhances the quality of life of our citizens," Modi said.
"India is open-minded. We want change that is not one-sided. Am discussing with citizens, industrialists & investors," the MEA spokesman quoted Modi as saying in a tweet. PM Narendra Modi, during a breakfast meet with industry leaders in the US on Monday, promised a stable tax policy. In the past, tax administration and frequent changes in government policies have been cited as major hurdles to investing in India. In recent years, even Indian business houses have often shunned investing in the country, preferring to go overseas.
The Modi government is keen to revive the investment cycle and is wooing investors, especially in the manufacturing sector, although the PM made it clear last week that the government does not believe in doles and concessions to attract flows into the country. Describing the meeting as "excellent and very good", business leaders said the PM heard their concerns and listed out the government's priority areas. "He answers questions brilliantly and is very focused on improving India. So, we are thrilled to be working with him," Nooyi said.
Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga said Modi can execute plans like he did in Gujarat.
"I have every belief he can do that. I believe then you can have a very good decade or ahead of growth in India and that would make every American investor happy to put their capital, technology and their people into India." Banga said Modi was focused on generating jobs for which there was a need to improve manufacturing, tourism and infrastructure. "His view is that he will get those with clear policies as well as about willingness to execute and he made the point many times over and I think from his perspective of his focus and his energy around Asia," he said.
While Boeing CEO James McNerney, who met Modi separately, promised to "accelerate engagement with India", GE's Immelt said his company is looking to scale up investments. "We discussed India. We are enthusiastic about the changes and the reforms in India and we are anxious to do our part in making India a better place," Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said.