Budget Proposes More Foreign Investment in Media, Aviation

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NEW DELHI: Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman today indicated the government is ready to relax the norms in Foreign Direct Investment or FDI in sensitive areas like aviation, insurance as well as the media in its efforts to boost the economy.
“I propose to further consolidate, the gains in order to make India more attractive FDI destination. The government will examine suggestions of further opening up of FDI in aviation, media, AVGC (Animation, Visual effects, Gaming and Comics) and insurance sector in consultation with stakeholders,” she said.

While the minister did not spell out the details, there have been reports in the run up to the elections that the government is considering a raise in the cap on FDI in print media to 49 per cent, from the current 26 per cent.

The last time the government relaxed FDI norms in media was in November 2015 — just after the BJP lost the assembly elections in Bihar to the Grand Alliance — to attract overseas funds.

The FDI limit in news channels and private FM radio was raised to 49 per cent, up from 26 per cent, and 100 per cent foreign investment was allowed in entertainment channels.

Foreign ownership in the cash-strapped print media, however, remained unchanged at 26%, so Indian firms can retain maximum control.

But foreign investment is crucial for India which is hoping to double its economy to 5 trillion dollars over the next five years – a goal that makes it necessary to register at least 8 per cent growth.

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