Sunday, November 30, 2014

ACHHE DIN: ARE WE ON TRACK FOR 8% GROWTH? Modi Sarkar's top team promises clarity on regulations, including land law and allocation of non-coal minerals

ec 01 2014 : The Economic Times (Kolkata)
Small Steps Will Lead to Big Change: Modi Mantris
Our Bureau

ACHHE DIN: ARE WE ON TRACK FOR 8% GROWTH? Modi Sarkar's top team promises clarity on regulations, including land law and allocation of non-coal minerals
Impatient industry leaders who streamed in large numbers into the ET Awards for Corporate Excellence on Saturday looking for announcements on big-bang reforms from the top ministers in the Narendra Modi government were instead told that they could expect a series of measures that will leave a lasting impression.

This government will take what may look like small steps, but will push through important legislation and clear regulatory cobwebs which are crippling businesses, and their impact will be such that the `Make in India' project of PM Modi will become a reality rather than remain a slogan.

Liberalisation of investment regulations will be dictated by national interest instead of aiming to just enrich a few, and leave out millions as in the past when employment generation lagged economic growth.

"The objective was capacitybuilding, so at 49% (in defence) we have had a reasonable good initial period," said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley . "I do not think there are too many amongst the captains of the industry here who are going to invest 49% in defence only to become minority shareholders. People are approaching Indian corpo rates for joint ventures."

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, Power & Coal Minister Piy ush Goyal told the galaxy of CEOs and en during a panel trepreneurs during a panel discussion, which included Bharti Airtel's Sunil Mittal, ITC's YC Deveshwar and Diageo Plc's Ivan Menezes.

"We sorted out a 40-year story in less than 40 days," said minister Piyush Goyal. "I have yet to read one editorial which has been able to find flaw in that ordinance," said Power & Coal Minister Piyush Goyal."We stand for whatever we say and we will take every step required to meet the expectations of the people and get the achhe din."

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the country's defence policy will be tailored in such a way that the world's biggest importer of defence equipment will produce more of its needs at home, even if it is done by a multinational company.

"We are working on policies where Make in India becomes reality in this sector," said Parrikar."If we are the biggest customer, why cannot I get things done in my country , at least initially even if it is by global (companies)."

Industry captains who were worried that `big-bang' reforms are absent and that the government was sounding nationalistic in a throwback to the days of socialism were assured that national interest need not necessarily be anti-business and trade.

Although the postponement of the Trade Facilitation Agreement under the World Trade Organization caused a lot of anxiety, the way the government handled the issue leads one to believe that the nation is in safe hands, said Sunil Mittal, founder of Bharti Airtel.

"At one point in time (I felt) that either the WTO will collapse or we will be isolated in the whole process and that other countries will move forward," said Mittal."This government showed nerves of steel. When the whole world, and this time mind you most of the emerging countries were also not behind us, then to stand alone and say we want to protect our agriculture, we want to protect our procurement... I think you have done a fantastic job. I personally feel we are blessed to have a government like this."

Be it defence, retail, power or coal, the common thread of policymaking will be that there is a level-playing field and there is no favouritism towards any single group, or an individual. The government will take time to decide, but it will come up with a foolproof mechanism.

"It is the role of technology which is very difficult for anyone to put a brake on," Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharam said, when questioned on talk of restrictions on ecommerce. "But at the same time, I would not want to rush in to say either way because our position, on say multi-brand retail, is very clear. But nothing more at this stage."

Indeed, as the debate pro gressed, it became evident that chief executives are worried more about the nitty-gritty of doing business which the Modi government is focusing on rather than limits on foreign ownership, and the dominance of inefficient state-run enterprises in many fields. "We need 250,000 approvals in one year... licences and approvals in one year," said Menezes of Diageo, which bought United Spirits in a $3-billion transaction. "I would hope with the direction we are taking, that number comes down drastically. I mean that will unleash the economic activity, growth that will cause us to invest. It will raise more employment."

Part of the industry's worries were addressed right on the spot. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is determined to make Mumbai a better place to live in, and the state -which has been slipping of late -the preferred place to do business. "I have decided and have worked out, and I will be bringing those permissions down to 25 from 76 and it will take just onethree months to get all these permissions," said Fadnavis.

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