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Tata lashes out at govt

London, Dec. 7 (AFP): Ratan Tata has said that lack of government support is preventing Indian industry from competing with China and lashed out at the “venal” business environment.

In interviews published ahead of his retirement as Tata group chairman this month, Tata criticised what he called a lack of coherence in government policy and said the group’s ethical standards had cost it business.

Tata told Financial Times his group planned to look to other emerging markets for expansion and accused Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of forcing it to do so by failing to address complaints about bureaucracy.

The government is currently steering a series of economic reforms through Parliament which aim to open up sectors such as supermarkets, insurance and aviation. But Tata complained that it still took the best part of a decade to gain clearance for major projects.

“Different agencies in the government have almost contradictory interpretations of the law, or interpretations of what should be done,” he said. “These are things which by and large would drive investors away in most other countries.”

Tata contrasted the government’s attitude towards its industrial sector with that of its counterpart China where the group recently opened a Jaguar Land Rover factory. “There’s a great, marked difference (in) government support,” he said. “If we had the same kind of encouragement to industry... I think India could compete definitely with China.”

In a separate interview to an in-house publication, Tata said his successor Cyrus Mistry would face a major struggle not to compromise the group’s ethical standards. “They (Mistry and his fellow executives) will have to make decisions and, when they do this, they will be constantly faced with the question: do you compromise, do you give in?” said Tata, who stands down on December 28 when he turns 75.

“You can call it by another name, but in playing this game of appeasing or surrendering to a venal system, the soft option, the easy way out is a compromise.”