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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers his Independence Day speech from The Red Fort in New Delhi, on August 15, 2016/AFP

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PM Modi hails sweeping reforms for India’s fast growth

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers his Independence Day speech from The Red Fort in New Delhi, on August 15, 2016/AFP

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers his Independence Day speech from The Red Fort in New Delhi, on August 15, 2016/AFP

NEW DELHI, India, Aug 15 – Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India was becoming the world’s most attractive destination for foreign investors Monday, using his annual Independence Day speech to trumpet sweeping tax reforms designed to spur growth.

In an address from Delhi’s 17th-century Red Fort, Modi sought to highlight his government’s achievements, including the recent passage of a landmark tax reform, that have contributed to India’s robust growth during a global slowdown.

“Be it the World Bank, the IMF (International Monetary Fund), World Economic Forum or even credit rating agencies, all the institutions of the world have appreciated India’s development,” Modi said.

“Thanks to India’s continuous reforms and improvement in its laws and systems, a change in its approach — the world is watching us,” he added.

“We have improved India’s rank in ease of doing business rapidly. India has become the most favoured nation in the world for foreign direct investments. India has outpaced some of the biggest nations in the world with its growth rate, GDP (gross domestic product).”

India’s GDP expanded 7.6 percent in 2015-16, making it the fastest-growing major economy in the world and outpacing its rival China’s growth rate.

He went on to thank all political parties for clearing earlier this month the long-awaited Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill, which had been blocked by the opposition since he came to power in 2014.

The bill will replace a patchwork of central and state levies on goods and services and marks India’s most significant economic reform in decades.

Modi said his government had been successful in bringing down retail inflation from double digits to six percent, adding that he was working with the central bank to lower prices to four percent with a plus or minus-two percent band.

“I will continue to strive hard to ensure that this inflation doesn’t affect the food plate of the poor,” he said.

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