Suresh P Iyenger, Thomas K Thomas
The Hindu BusinessLine
16 May 2017
Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman of the $41 billion Aditya Birla Group, shares his views with BusinessLine on the three-year performance of the Modi government. Excerpts:
How responsive has the government to industry demands during tough times?
The government has been very pro-active. This is evident in several forward-looking steps taken to address industry concerns. The unfair dumping of imported goods has been a serious concern. The government acted with a sense of urgency to impose anti-dumping duties and ensured a level playing field for industry. Likewise, to step up exports in the manufacturing and services sectors, two major incentive schemes were introduced. Similarly, railway freight was rationalised and made equitable. Corporate income tax on small and medium-sized companies stands reduced. Investment in infrastructure was bolstered through a record allocation of ₹4 trillion. This will provide multiplier demand effects to various industries. The allocation of natural resources through transparent auctions is a welcome measure. The liberalisation of FDI in high-value industrial sectors, including defence, construction and railways, and digitalisation, and national market integration through GST augur well for industry.
How have things changed with regard to ease of doing business?
At a time when most countries in the developed world and even emerging market players are witnessing lacklustre growth, India is among the few bright spots. Much credit must go to the Prime Minister’s constant focus on improving India’s global rank in ease of doing business. India has moved up the ranking from 142 to 130. Many archaic laws have been dropped. Clearance procedures are being speeded up. The rollout of GST with its attendant digital basis, increased tax compliance and irrelevance of State boundaries, all provide a big boost for ease of doing business. The new regulation is especially friendly for start-ups and new entrepreneurs. Additionally the State-level ranking of ease of doing business has stoked healthy competition among them.
Is the effect of these policy changes being felt on the ground?
Absolutely. Several policy changes have infused an air of optimism about India’s economic prospects among both global investors and Indian industry. FDI inflows have been buoyant. Green clearances are significantly faster now. The policy strategy around JAM (Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile) is having a pronounced effect, in reduced leakages and higher efficiency.
What should the government focus on in the next two years?
Revival of large-scale private sector investment, and job creation on a larger scale. For the former, public infrastructure investment and projects will provide a ‘crowding in’ effect. If cost of capital comes down further, it will provide an additional incentive. New sectors like defence and renewable energy are promising areas for private investment. Reform measures like the ordinance for NPA resolution, and bankruptcy code will help. Apart from these, the government should increase resource flow to the social sectors, especially health and education.
Dr. Pragnya RamGroup Executive President, Corporate Communications & CSRAditya Birla Management Corporation Private LimitedAditya Birla Centre, 1st Floor, 'C' WingS.K. Ahire Marg, WorliMumbai 400 030.
91-22-6652 5000 /2499 5000
Fax: 91-22-6652 5741/ 42