President Pranab Mukherjee leaves for Norway, Finland

New Delhi, Oct 12: With an aim of giving a boost to India's relations with Scandinavian countries, President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday left on a tour of Norway, the first by the Head of State, and Finland during which efforts will be made to attract investment from Norway to India.

Accompanied by Union Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Pon Radhakrishnan, the highlight of Mukherjee's visit to the two nations will be that he would be crossing the Arctic Circle and visiting the village of Santa Claus before he returns to India on Friday.

He was given a ceremonial send off at Rashtrapati Bhavan by Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Minister of Human Resource Development Smriti Irani, Lt Governor of Delhi Najeeb Jung and the three service Chiefs. The focus of the visit would be work out a mechanism for attracting investment from Norway to India in the infrastructure sector and other areas.

At present a meagre four billion dollar of investment of the 850 billion dollar Norwegian Pension Fund flows to India, said Secretary (West), MEA, Navtej Sarna. But there is a commitment to raise it to 20 billion to 40 billion dollars, "and we want to see how we can push that further and with which sectors we can do that," he said.

The Norwegian Pension fund, earlier knows as 'Oil fund', is a result of large state revenues from petroleum activities which resulted in substantial financial assets. Started in 1990 to help in long-term and sound management of the Fund, it also helps to ensure that both present and future generations can benefit from Norway's petroleum wealth.

As Norway is the world's third largest exporters of hydrocarbons in the world and has huge reserves of oil and gas, the President, before his departure, had a meeting with  businessmen and industrialists to understand how India could be benefited from the Scandinavian nation.

Norway is a source of modern technologies in exploration and drilling besides being having tremendous ship-building expertise.

"These are some things which we have to look at," Sarna said. 


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