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PM.9.Thmb.jpg Push reforms to revive growth, industry asks PM

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SME Times News Bureau | 30 Jul, 2013
Industry leaders Monday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and called for pushing up the reform process and removing hurdles to investments, and convert decisions to action in a bid to propel economic growth.

Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, Infosys chairman N.R. Narayana Murthy, Wipro chairman Azim Premji, Bajaj Group chairman Rahul Bajaj and chief of leading industry chambers among others attended the meeting held at the prime minister's official 7 Race Course Road residence. The meeting lasted for nearly three hours.

"There was a detailed and lengthy discussion on the issues. While some expressed their concerns, some gave concrete suggestions on how to improve matters," the Prime Minister's office said in a statement after the meeting.

"The overall sentiment was on the need to bring back the mood, converting decisions to action and taking the country back to a growth path of 8 percent or more," it said.

According to the statement, the prime minister wanted a "report to be submitted within one month on what can be done in the next 2-3 months".

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and chairman of the Prime Minister's economic advisory council C. Rangarajan were also present at the meeting called The Prime Minister's Council on Trade and Industry.

The agenda focused on measures to correct the current account deficit; the slowdown of industrial growth and measures to revive it; depreciation of the rupee and its impact on trade and industry; and skill development and development of industrial corridors.

India's economic growth slumped to a decade low of five percent in the financial year ended March 31, and the country's current account deficit hit a record high of 4.8 percent. The government targets to bring it down to 4.2 percent in the current financial year.

Indian rupee hit a record low of 61.21 against a dollar earlier this month.

The industry leaders asked the government to take measures to revive investments and implement the reform measures that were announced recently.

"We have given suggestion in two categories, one for near term and one for longer run. For near term, we have suggested clearing of large projects and those projects which were cleared should now be executed," Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) president Naina Lal Kidwai told reporters after the meeting.

Total investments in new projects in India slumped to Rs.77,463.4 crore in April-June quarter as compared to Rs.222,659.8 crore recorded during the corresponding quarter of last year, according to data compiled by Mumbai-based think-tank Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).

FDI inflows in India slumped by 38 percent to $22.4 billion in 2012-13 as compared to $35.1 billion recorded in the previous year, despite the much-touted reform measures in the areas like retail and aviation, as per the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) data.

Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) president Rana Kapoor emphasised on the need for reducing reliance on petroleum and other imports in order to control current account deficit.

"India needs to reduce its reliance on petroleum imports. The subsidy on non-bulk diesel users and domestic LPG (cooking gas) users should be completely removed," Kapoor said in his presentation at the meeting.

"Additionally, critical oil subsidy to agriculture sector can be routed through the Aadhar mechanism. This will enable us to reduce pressures on oil subsidy and fiscal deficit - indirectly benefiting CAD," he said.
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