Visiting Indian investors praise PM’s vision – Government working with India to improve digital services

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley met with members of the Indian Investment Mission at the Diplomatic Centre, St Clair on June 24. – Photo courtesy Office of the Prime Minister

A month after the Prime Minister visited India to promote bilateral relations, the Indian Investment Mission – a delegation of Indian investors – has arrived in Trinidad and Tobago and will be in the country until June 28.

Dr Rowley also met with investors in establishing a cricket academy in Trinidad and Tobago.

The delegation said a lot more investors would soon be visiting this “great country” to explore the opportunities between the two nations.

At a press conference on June 24 at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre, Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon said the investors came from a range of sectors – agro-processing, steel and metals, pharmaceuticals, tourism and manufacturing – and more were to arrive on June 24 and 25.

She said the Indian economy was a “significant one” as India had the fifth largest economy in the world and was projected to become the third by 2029.

“India is a key growth engine for the world, contributing 16 per cent to the global growth in 2023.”

She said it was good to have the investors “looking for the opportunities for investment in a wide variety of sectors.

“India has a growth rate of 7.2 per cent when most countries are below that – that gives you an idea of the economy of India and how strong it is.”

Monish Behl, Asia Plates Steel LLC & Gulf Metals Trading LLC; Amit Sawney, Nippon Global; and Anuj Gupta, Atulaya Health Care Pvt Ltd were three of the four investors present at a press conference held by the Ministry of Trade and Industry on June 24 at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre.

Behl said he was impressed by Rowley’s “great vision for TT” and was happy to hear about it – hence the delegation’s visit.

“It took all of one month and now we are here.

“It is all because of his great vision for this country, and there will be a lot of investors regularly visiting to explore the opportunities.”

Speaking at the press conference, the fourth investor, director of Sarvatra Technologies Mandar Agashe, said he was happy to be in TT after being impressed with the vision Rowley spoke about in India.

Agashe explained Sarvatra Technologies was in the business of digital technologies in terms of payments.

“Today India is known for having the best digital payment platforms in the world.

“My company has given digital platforms to over 700 banks in India, from the smallest banks in the village to the largest banks, they use my technology platform.”

Agashe said he hoped to bring the same digital platform in TT.

“I want to help completely digitise Trinidad’s entire payment system…because modern payment solutions are seamless, effortless and extremely secure.”

He said that helped India to “leapfrog into a different age.”

“Digitisation has helped India’s gross domestic product (GDP), as more cash is sitting in the bank than in homes.

“It has helped the economic growth and I believe the same thing can be done in small developing nations (like TT).”

“I believe Sarvatra can help by bringing the latest technology into this country and bring them at a speed at which they require to ensure that in a few years, TT can follow India in becoming fully digitised.”

Minister of Digital Transformation Hassel Bacchus led a mission to India last August to learn about the country’s experience in providing digital government services.

He said that led to the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the government of India on sharing digital solutions implemented at population scale for digital transformation.

“Since then, a lot has happened. When you’re dealing with government-to-government arrangements you’re not just dealing with the government. You’re dealing with the agencies, ministries and in some cases companies behind that.”

He said besides setting up the framework between government-to-government, work still needed to be done with others to establish the actual work itself.

“We have looked at seven thematic areas in which we are exploring and working already with India to get things done and it has already been approved by the Cabinet.

Bacchus said some projects the ministry had been working on with India were in the pilot phase, some were in trials and others could be implemented immediately.

Bacchus outlined some of the seven areas the ministry had been working on with India – working with JAIN, an Indian university – to help with training and even scholarship programmes for TT citizens working with the Reserve Bank of India to help with digital payment and solutions, a stack of technology that is available to governments across the world at no cost, advisory services on policy as India has a similar legislative, a service where citizens can have all their documents (ID card, birth certificates) digitised and facial recognition software to “uniquely identify citizens.”

Gopee-Scoon concluded having investors from different sectors helped with diversification.

“That’s exactly what we’ve been talking about in Trinidad, diversification.

“That’s a buzzword we hear all the time, ‘The country needs to diversify,’ and we have been diversifying some sectors faster than others. But the idea is, once you have this kind of attraction going on, businesses will come to TT, and we are opening up the country for greater opportunities for further diversification in varying sectors.”

She said there had been discussions on bringing another delegation, largely from the tourism sector, and she looked forward to their working together.