NEW DELHI: India continued to develop its relationship in the Indian Ocean Region, offering an additional coast guard patrol boat to visiting Seychelles President James Alix Michel, who is in India within five months of Prime minister Narendra Modi’s state visit.The visit also provided an opportunity to sign an agreement on tax information exchange - which will help in the tracking of black money from India to Seychelles, known as an offshore haven.
Besides, this there was four other bilateral pacts which include on air services and supply of Dornier aircraft to the island nation. India also handed over navigational charts to Aldabra Island, made by India’s naval Hydrographer.
All these show how India is wooing the Indian Ocean island nation - vital for ensuring that strategic imprint in the region is not encroached by China.
During his march visit, Modi had announced India’s gift of Dornier aircraft, which President Michel said will “significantly reinforce our security capabilities in terms of surveillance of our ocean space and of the Indian Ocean region as a whole.”
“I have conveyed that India will gift one more Interceptor Coastguard boat to Seychelles,” Modi said in a statement after his bilateral discussion with President Michel. India has already gifted two coast guard ships to Seychelles, which are part of its fleet of six patrol ships to survey its large territorial waters.
“Seychelles has expressed its willingness to be a partner in the maritime security cooperation between India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives,” reiterated Michel. Mauritius and Seychelles were supposed to have joined the trilateral network, but the delay in holding its meeting has pushed back the expansion.
Modi specifically noted that “we (India and Seychelles) have excellent security cooperation, especially for maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region”.
Further, he announced that India has already begun preparations for infrastructure development on Assumption island.
shot in arm
■ In a boost to its fight against black money, India signs an info exchange pact with Seychelles on tax matters
■ India has signed similar pacts with other offshore tax havens such as Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino
■ Seychelles has long been perceived as one of the preferred offshore havens for routing funds
India’s commitment to develop Assumption and Mauritius’s Adegas islands were taken during Modi’s visit to the region in March.
These are described as being a significant strategic value, with both islands being big enough to build air strips.