February 27, 2017, 3:13 pm
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India’s PM Modi touts digitized economy to business leaders

GANDHINAGAR- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told a gathering of business leaders on Tuesday that the country was on the verge of becoming the world’s most digitized economy, and avoided direct mention of the economic hit from demonetization.

Speaking at India’s biggest investor summit, organized in his home state of Gujarat, the 65-year-old said his government was strongly committed to continue reforming the Indian economy.

“We are working to adopt and absorb newer technologies, to bring about transparency, and to end discretion,” Modi told the summit, adding that foreign direct investment in the country has topped $130 billion in his two-and-a-half years in office.

“Believe me, we are on the threshold of becoming the world’s most digitized economy. Most of you wanted this change in India. I am proud to say that it is happening before you.

“Creating an enabling environment for business, and attracting investments, is my top priority.”

Modi’s address to the Vibrant Gujarat investor gathering comes weeks after his shock decision to abolish 500 and 1,000 rupee notes, worth around $7.50 and $15 each.

The move caused widespread anger among millions of people across the country, as they endured long queues at banks and ATMs to draw money or deposit old notes about to expire.

The radical gambit has been billed as an attempt to root out corruption, end terror financing and move the country into the age of digital payments.

But Modi’s government has struggled to produce enough new bank notes to meet demand, leading to a temporary slump in business in an economy that is heavily dependent on cash.
India’s corporate earnings expectations have taken a hit.

Fears that the note ban will dent profits in the latest quarter have led to a 2.25 percent drop in earnings estimates since Nov. 8 for those companies that are part of the country’s benchmark Index, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Still, Indian government officials are optimistic that major investment pledges will come out of the meeting, which is being held at a sprawling convention center in the western city of Gandhinagar. – Reuters 
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