India’s finance minister said onThursday that the government was preparing new economic reforms as it focuses on kickstarting investment in the sharply slowing economy.
After years of policy logjam and corruption allegations, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s administration burst into life two weeks ago when it announced a sudden blitz of measures to open up the economy and cut subsidies.
Speaking after a meeting of leaders in the left-leaning ruling coalition, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram stressed that more changes were in the pipeline.
“The prime minister underlined the need for a number of measures that will ensure that there is no volatility in the rupee and that investment will continue to flow into India as well as stimulate domestic investors,” he said.
“The need to do more reforms was discussed. Specific measures will come before the cabinet.”
Reports say the government is preparing to raise the bar for foreign investment in Indian insurance companies to 49 percent following recent moves to allow foreign direct investment in retail, airlines and broadcasting.
The cabinet is also said to be discussing a long-stalled and highly controversial land acquisition bill, which would aim to overhaul colonial-era laws governing the purchase of agricultural land for industrial purposes.
Singh, who turned 80 on Wednesday, had spent most of his second term as premier since 2009 on the defensive after a string of corruption scandals rocked his administration.
He and the reform-minded Chidambaram, who took office in late July, are widely seen as having convinced the matriarch of the dominant Congress party, Sonia Gandhi, of the need to implement reforms to stem a slide in the economy.
India’s economic growth is at its slowest pace in three years, the rupee has slid and the ratings agency Standard and Poor’s has warned that India could lose its investment-grade rating.