India Inc asks government to push for reforms

New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) Industry leaders Monday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and called for pushing up the reform process in a bid to revive growth and investments.

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

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.

The industry leaders asked the government to take measures to revive investments.

"Reviving investments and giving a thrust to the industrial sector should be government's priority at the present moment," said Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) president Naina Lal Kidwai.

"A turnaround in GDP growth hinges on how the overall industrial sector performs in the months ahead. Be it fiscal policy, monetary policy or the structural reforms route, all these have to be used in tandem to lift business sentiment and create a environment where investors feel confident about their investments," she said.

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.

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.

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

"India needs to reduce its reliance on petroleum imports. The subsidy on non-bulk diesel users and domestic LPG 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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