Finance Minister Arun Jaitley inaugurated India’s first finance SEZ: International financial Service Centre (IFSC) at the Gujarat International Financial Tec (GIFT) City, 18 kms from Ahmedabad. A rule book was also released, which contains the terms and conditions along with guidelines for every company which wishes to operate in this SEZ.
With an IFSC in India, we can now compete against global financial hubs like Dubai and Singapore to attract foreign investors who are willing to trade in foreign currencies. Earlier, there was no such option in India.
Jaitley said, “In recent times, we are noticing that many new start-ups are coming in India. However, they are threatening to go to other countries to raise capital, which they are finding it difficult to do in India. There should be a facility for them to do that while staying in India. Further, through this IFSC, we want to allow NRIs to invest in foreign currencies. In addition, they can also raise money in foreign exchange from India through IFSC”
The proposal for such an institution and SEZ was sent to the UPA Govt. by the Gujarat Govt. in 2011, but nothing happened in the last 4 years due to various reasons. This SEZ had been planned inside GIFT, which is India’s first finance and tech smart city being constructed at a budget of Rs 78,000 crore. Out of 880 acres allocated to the GIFT smart city, 250 acres would be used for IFSC.
After this financial SEZ is fully operational, around 10,00,000 direct and indirect jobs would be generated, along with proposed construction of 62 million square feet of commercial and social facilities.
Why IFSC Is Important for India?
As per analysts, Rs 1334 crore/per day or Rs 2 trillion per year worth of trade in rupee derivatives is being conducted out of India in global business hubs such as Singapore and Dubai which have provisioned IFSC concept. Now, around 50-80% of this trade can happen in India at GFIT city, thereby giving our financial services sector a big push.
Additionally, as there was no IFSC earlier, we lost approximate 50% of market share in the two most crucial financial products: Rupee-dollar futures contracts traded on the Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange (DGCX) and the Nifty futures contracts traded at Singapore and other international markets.
The trading of these India related products would now be possible inside India, thereby providing us with a fresh infuse of foreign currency.
Just for information, London had such an IFSC since last 300 years, and the East India Company was part of this institution. IFSC of New York is also 150+ years old. Dubai and Singapore are the other important IFSCs globally. Infact, Dubai ISFC contributes 12% of the UAE’s GDP!
Rules for Companies Inside IFSC
A detailed notification from the finance ministry will arrive shortly regarding guidelines for all companies which wish to operate inside IFSC. Some of the guidelines which were shared yesterday during the inauguration:
- Those domestic and international banks which already have a presence in India will be allowed to set up their offices inside IFSC
- Financial Institutions will need a minimum capital of $20 million to enter IFSC
- International insurance and re-insurance firms should have a capital of Rs 10 crore to enter IFSC
- NRIs who wish to invest more than 1 million dollars would be eligible under The Foreign Exchange Management Act to invest
- No cash transactions would be allowed; and all trade has to happen in non-rupee denominations
- No tax would be levied on transactions as part of SEZ initiatives.
Last month, SEBI gave their green signal for this ISFC in GIFT city. Earlier this year, National Stock Exchange of India Ltd announced the opening of a new international exchange in GIFT city; and BSE has already announced an investment of Rs 150 crore. Kotak Mahindra has also signed an MoU to open their offshore banking center in IFSC along with several other banks and financial institutions.
IFSC in GIFT City is certainly a new chapter for Indian financial world.