India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. The country needs to expand its economic and strategic activities globally and GIFT City, an emerging global financial hub and India’s first operational smart city, has a pivotal role to play in achieving this vision.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, back in 2007 as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, conceptualised the idea of GIFT City. His vision was to create a globally-benchmarked financial centre that can compete with the renowned financial centres in London, Tokyo, Shanghai, Paris, Singapore and Dubai. Since its conceptualisation, GIFT City has made rapid progress.The support that GIFT City has received from the central and Gujarat governments has acted as a catalyst in accelerating its growth.
Spread over 886 acres in Gandhinagar, GIFT City consists of a multi-service Special Economic Zone (SEZ), which houses India’s first International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) and an exclusive Domestic Tariff Area (DTA). About 261 acres have been demarcated as SEZ area whereas 625 acres have been marked as DTA. The plan is to develop 62 million sq ft of built-up area, consisting of commercial space (67 per cent), residential space (22 per cent) and social space of 11 per cent.
The social infrastructure in the city includes a school, medical facilities, a proposed hospital, GIFT City business club with indoor and outdoor sports facilities. It also includes integrated well-planned residential housing projects making GIFT City a truly “Walk to Work” City. GIFT is a smart city in every sense with various first-in-the-country initiatives in the field of urban infrastructure.
India’s first International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) has been operationalised in GIFT City. An IFSC enables bringing back the financial services and transactions that are currently carried out in offshore financial centres by Indian corporate entities and overseas branches/subsidiaries of financial institutions (FIs) to India by offering a business and regulatory environment that is comparable to other leading international financial centres like London and Singapore. It would provide Indian corporations with easier access to global financial markets. IFSC would also complement and promote further development of financial markets in India.
GIFT IFSC provides services related to capital markets, offshore insurance, offshore banking and asset management, aircraft and ship leasing, and ancillary services. It houses two international stock exchanges with a combined average daily trading volume of over $11 billion. Soon, an international bullion exchange is also going to be launched.
As the dynamic nature of business in the IFSCs requires a high degree of inter-regulatory coordination within the financial sector, the IFSCA has been established as a unified regulator with a holistic vision in order to promote ease of doing business in IFSCs and provide a world-class regulatory environment. The main objective of the IFSCA is to develop a strong global connection and focus on the needs of the Indian economy as well as to serve as an international financial platform.
The pro-business regulatory regime and a conducive ecosystem have made GIFT City an ideal place for investments and over 300 units are already operational in GIFT SEZ and DTA.
The Government of India’s recent announcement to permit campuses of foreign universities in GIFT IFSC, free from domestic regulations, has created a buzz globally. Many Australian, UK and US-based universities have shown an interest in establishing their presence in GIFT IFSC.
Despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic globally, GIFT City continued to attract domestic and international players.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for GIFT City has already started taking a concrete shape. In the years to come, GIFT City will be a force to reckon with in the field of financial technology, data security and finance, which will make not just Gujarat but the entire country proud. (Indian Express)