India is world’s 40th most competitive economy: WEF

The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) is prepared on the basis of country-level data covering 12 categories or pillars of competitiveness.

India has been ranked as the 40th most competitive economy — slipping one place from last year’s ranking — on the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness index, which is topped by Switzerland.

On the list of 137 economies, Switzerland is followed by the US and Singapore in second and third places, respectively.

In the latest Global Competitiveness Report released today, India has slipped from the 39th position to 40th while neighbouring China is ranked at 27th.

“India stabilises this year after its big leap forward of the previous two years,” the report said, adding that the score has improved across most pillars of competitiveness. These include infrastructure (66th rank), higher education and training (75) and technological readiness (107), reflecting recent public investments in these areas, it added.

According to the report, India’s performance also improved in ICT (information and communications technologies) indicators, particularly Internet bandwidth per user, mobile phone and broadband subscriptions, and Internet access in schools.

However, the WEF said the private sector still considers corruption to be the most problematic factor for doing business in India.

“A big concern for India is the disconnect between its innovative strength (29) and its technological readiness (up 3 to 107): as long as this gap remains large, India will not be able to fully leverage its technological strengths across the wider economy,” it noted.

Among the BRICS, China and Russia (38) are placed above India.South Africa and Brazil are placed at 61st and 80th spots, respectively.

In South Asia, India has garnered the highest ranking, followed by Bhutan (85th rank), Sri Lanka (85), Nepal (88), Bangladesh (99) and Pakistan (115).

“Improving ICT infrastructure and use remain among the biggest challenges for the region: in the past decade, technological readiness stagnated the most in South Asia,” WEF said.

Other countries in the top 10 are the Netherlands (4th rank), Germany (5), Hong Kong SAR (6), Sweden (7), United Kingdom (8), Japan (9) and Finland (10).

The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) is prepared on the basis of country-level data covering 12 categories or pillars of competitiveness.

Institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication and innovation are the 12 pillars.

According to WEF’s Executive Opinion Survey 2017, corruption is the most problematic factor for doing business in India.

The second biggest bottleneck is ‘access to financing’, followed by ‘tax rates’, ‘inadequate supply of infrastructure’, ‘poor work ethics in national labour force’ and ‘inadequately educated work force’, among others.

The survey findings are mentioned in the report.

“Countries preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and simultaneously strengthening their political, economic and social systems will be the winners in the competitive race of the future,” WEF founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab said.

Finnish companies looking for new opportunities in India

Nina Vaskunlahti, Ambassador of Finland to India Paul Noronha

India is becoming one of the favorite destinations for investments in manufacturing, clean tech, infrastructure and hi-tech for Finnish companies.

Nina Vaskunlahti, Ambassador of Finland to India, in an interview with BusinessLine said, “There is increasing interest in economic cooperation, and Finnish companies are looking for new opportunities in India.”

Investment protection

According to Vaskunlahti, although India’s legislative framework can be a little complicated and the judicial system overworked and under-resourced leading to delays in solving disputes for foreign investors, overall the atmosphere is “welcoming and pretty open”.

However, according to the Ambassador, Finland is worried over India’s move to terminate investment protection agreement with 82 countries. “We are not quite sure what is the purpose of this,” Vaskunlahti said. While the treaty between India and Finland is still in force, according to Vaskunlahti, India and the European Union seem to be stuck over negotiating a new investment protection treaty after a year back India had sent request for renegotiation for the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) to over 80 countries with whom it had earlier signed Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPA).

“As a member of EU, we cannot negotiate on our own, because it’s the EU Commission that has a negotiating mandate,” Vaskunlahti said. “What we have now on the table is called a comprehensive negotiating mandate which covers both free trade agreement and the investment protection agreement. For the moment, nothing much is happening, but efforts and work are being done in background to push it forward.”

The new model of the BIT was cleared by the Union Cabinet in December 2015 and was seen to give more stability to foreign investors and prevent disputes with multinational companies by excluding matters such as government procurement, taxation, subsidies, compulsory licences and national security.

Arbitration mechanism

At the same time, the new model BIT brings in a provision obliging foreign investors to first exhaust the option of local judicial system at least for five years before going to international arbitration mechanism in case of disputes.

Some of the cases when foreign investors challenged India in international arbitrage, invoking clauses of earlier BIPAs include Devas Multimedia, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, Sistema and Cairn.


Flat solar power tariff drops to all time low of Rs 3.15 per unit

The levelised solar power tariff has dropped to all time low of Rs 3.15 per unit in an auction of a 250 MW project at Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh.

Earlier in February, the lower capital expenditure and cheaper credit had pulled down solar tariff to a new low of Rs 2.97 per unit for the first year in an auction conducted for 750 MW capacity in Rewa Solar Park in Madhya Pradesh.

However, the levelised tariff for Rewa project worked out to be Rs 3.30 per unit.

“The price bid opened and reverse auction carried out for 250 MW (1×250) solar project at Kadapa in AP under developer mode. Solairdirect has won this project with quoted levelised tariff of Rs 3.15/KWh,” a senior official said.

The official said, “Rewa Ultra Mega Solar record of levelised tariff is RS 3.30 which has been broken by NTPC auction today.”

Commenting on this Power Minister Piyush Goyal has tweeted, “Clean affordable power for all: Solar achieves another record low of Rs 3.15/ unit (flat rate) during auction in Kadapa, AP by NTPC.”

In Januray last year, solar power tariff had dropped to a new low, with Finland-based energy firm Fortum Finnsurya Energy quoting Rs 4.34 a unit to bag the mandate to set up a 70-MW solar plant under NTPC’s Bhadla Solar Park tender.

In November 2015, the tariff had touched Rs 4.63 per unit following aggressive bidding by US-based SunEdison, the world’s biggest developer of renewable energy power plants.