Indian roads and highways Minister scouting for infrastructure investments from China

Indian roads and highways minister, Kamal Nath, urged Chinese firms to undertake increased infrastructure investments in India, saying India was ready for such projects. Nath told Chinese firms that the country is currently prepared for highway projects in all its regions, inclusive of tense border areas. Mr. Kamal Nath was speaking Wednesday in China, where he is currently on official tour of duty. The Minister said India was even prepared to help such Chinese investors tackle issues such as legal limits on equity investments in Indian road firms.

The announcement follows requests from Chinese state owned investment firms that they be treated equally as their Singaporean counterparts are treated. Nath was speaking after meeting his Chinese counterpart, Li Shenglin. It is at that meeting that the petition to have China Investment Corporation and Social Security Fund treated as separate entities for the purpose of effecting the cap on 10 per cent the SEBI Regulations was made.

Nath promised his Chinese counterpart that he will be addressing the concern with other Ministries in India to foster the much needed infrastructural investments from China. Kamal Nath addressed a second meeting Thursday in Tianjin, from which he continued to implore additional Chinese investments. According to the Minister, the fact that India currently has an infrastructural project awarded to a Chinese joint endeavor in Jammu and Kashmir reflects the continued push for more investments, as this investment did not encounter any objections.

It is with that in mind that the Minister was seeking continued highways investment in Jammu and Kashmir amongst other North Eastern areas of India, he said. Over Visa regulations, Nath reiterated that the new Visa rules permit only foreign workers with specialized technical skills to undertake work on Indian projects and that accounts for the success of the Chinese investments, he said. Several Chinese firms, including CGGC, CEC, Gezhouba Water and Power and JTEC are involved in highway projects in India, he pointed out.

The minister’s move comes as yet a strong case for Chinese investment in India’s massive highway expansion projects. Despite a few differences here and there, the Minister has had meetings with top ranking officials of major Chinese investment and infrastructure firms.

In a brief interaction with the Indian media in China, Nath said India-Chinese investments are welcome all across the country, reporting that in his interaction with the Chinese investors; a host of issues came up, including discrimination against investments by listed Chinese-owned investment companies like the CIC and SSF by Indian market regulator SEBI.

16 Sep 2010.