NEW DELHI: If a foreign company invests $2 billion, it will get residency permits allowing long stay in India for its key executives as well as cheap rates for utilities and a special package on upscale housing. That’s the latest policy idea of the Modi government, which is pushing hard to make India a more attractive foreign investment destination.
Senior officials, who spoke on the condition they not be identified, told ET the proposal could be formally unveiled after the Budget session of Parliament gets over in mid-March.
A finance ministry proposal, the residency permit policy file is now being reviewed by other ministries. If announced, this will be the first such policy in India, which will join countries such as the US, Canada, Singapore as well some European countries in offering investment-linked residency facilities. Some of these countries even offer citizenship to foreigners who bring in substantial investments.
Officials familiar with the development said besides residency permits, the government is also examining ways to smoothen the ‘work visa’ process for all foreign employees of investors.
There has been feedback that foreign employees of global investors need a hassle-free work visa process. The residency permit proposal is linked to efforts to push Modi’s ‘Make in India’ plan.
One of the main inputs for this policy will come from security agencies, officials said. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) are required to run a background check on individuals and companies who plan long stays in India or have frequent travel plans.
IB and RAW officials told ET they would like to examine all proposals under the proposed policy on a case-by-case basis, that is, specific checks on every investor who qualifies for the scheme and is interested in availing it.
But intelligence officials also said that case-by-case approvals won’t take time in case the foreign investor has a ‘clear’ background — no past questions on security or existing litigation with the government.
The Modi government has been making several efforts to ease security clearances for foreign investors. It cleared as many as 1,671 proposals in 2015, double the number of approvals granted in 2014. Of the 1,671 proposals cleared, 85 were projects run by foreign entities. The biggest foreign beneficiaries were the US (18), Hong Kong (11), France (9), China (8) and Germany (6). According to government officials, investment proposals from 26 nations were given faster security clearances.