New Delhi, Oct 15: Russia Monday called for scaling up business ties with India, but voiced unhappiness over New Delhi’s stand on the Russian investment by Sistema, saying one should not change the rules of the game mid-way.
“We should never reconsider the rules of the game once the game has begun. And we should hold the rules till the game is over,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told reporters here at a joint press conference with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna.
It’s very important to fulfil the agreements, he underlined.
If there are scandals, this will scare business communities, he stressed.
Although Rogozin did not name the Russian telcom giant Sistema’s $3.1 billion investment in a joint venture in India, the reference was obvious as Russia is understood to be extremely unhappy with what it sees as New Delhi’s flip-flop over the issue.
Sistema’s $3.1 billion investment in the joint venture, SSTL, suffered a blow with the Supreme Court’s order in February cancelling all 122 licences (including that of Sistema Shyam Teleservices) on allegations of bribery and corruption in the allocation of 2G spectrum.
Krishna said he will not be able to comment on the project as the matter was sub-judice, but assured that India will work with Russia on a strategy to promote economic relations.
“It is right now in a court of law pending adjudication. It will not be fair to comment on it. We have to await the outcome,” he said.
Although the Sistema issue has created some bitterness – as most of Sistema’s investment is Russian state money – the two sides spoke in unison about bringing their economic ties in line with the robust strategic and political relations between the two countries.
Rogozin stressed that the government should “demonstratively” help the business representatives to resolve issues emerging during their contact with the bureaucracy and support businesses of both countries to invest in each other’s country.
He struck an upbeat tone, saying bilateral trade has seen significant growth of 38 per cent in the first-half of the year and will reach $10 billion by the end of this year.
The two strategic partners have set an ambitious target for doubling up bilateral trade to $20 billion by 2015.
Krishna also pitched for stronger trade and investment between the two countries. “We welcome Russia’s formal membership of the World Trade Organisation. We hope that this would result in greater trade and investment flows bilaterally.”
“Our growing economy and major initiatives in terms of the national manufacturing policy and infrastructure development projects such as the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor offer good prospects for Russian investors and businesses.”