New Delhi, May 15: Even before the results for Election 2014 start flowing, the Bharatiya Janata Party — which widely expects to storm to power — has started inviting suggestions from industry, farmers’ bodies and select economists to help the Modi government draw up its 100-day agenda.
The broad aim is to draw up a policy-driven agenda to kickstart a faltering economy, which recorded an annual growth of less than 5 per cent in the past two years.
Senior party leaders say even as the BJP’s economic cell has started the confabulations, plans are afoot to invite selected “ordinary citizens” to join an online community that will discuss and provide “inputs to (prime ministerial candidate) Narendra Modi and his leadership team on what they should focus on in the next 100 days and 1 year upon their successful election”.
Party sources said the 100-day agenda would focus on economic revival, ramping up public investment in infrastructure building and in the farm sector, creating new jobs by boosting manufacturing and bringing in good governance among other issues. The agenda would include tax reforms that would include the contentious nationwide goods and services tax (GST), which Modi had earlier opposed as chief minister of Gujarat. It will also consider ways to ignite foreign direct investment in all sectors except retail.
Ficci, the chamber widely believed to be close to the BJP and which was selected by Modi to stage the “Vibrant Gujarat” investment show, is also feverishly working on a 100 day agenda that it wants to submit to the right-wing party at the earliest.
Ficci president Sidharth Birla said: “There is a need for both short-term hits and long-term fixes. The first target should be to address inflation. The other critical task is to build confidence and trust amongst business and society. The budget should be effectively leveraged to roll out the roadmap for fiscal and current account consolidation, revival of investments, enhancing national competitiveness, and strengthening civic, physical and social infrastructure.”
The 100-day agenda harks back to 1933 when US President F.D.Roosevelt inaugurated a flurry of legislative and executive action to bring America out of the depression. Roosevelt came out with the “New Deal”, which involved huge public spending to create jobs and build public infrastructure including highways, dams and railroads, reversed prohibition, thus improving state and federal revenues and put banks, which had been failing, on an even keel.
Interestingly, BJP sources said Indo-American economist Arvind Panagariya, who many believe could be called upon to take up an important position in a possible Modi administration, was not consulted in formulating the 100-day agenda.
Industry seems to be already punting on a stable government led by the BJP that would follow a pro-reforms agenda.
Sunil Mantri, chairman of Mantri Realty, said: “I am quite bullish, we presume a stable government will be formed which will be able to peruse an agenda of growth and development …. Reforms and confidence in the economy is needed.”
As GDP growth slowed down to 4.7 per cent with manufacturing shrinking, sales of apartments, cars and even consumer durables have been badly hit.
Huddled last week at a conference on shopping malls with the biggest names in realty and retail, Mantri had voiced concern about the plight of builders who had created about 1 billion square feet of retail space and were now struggling to find buyers and occupants.
“GDP growth has to be the game changer for the economy and a stable government with progressive policies, (is) the key to it,” he said.
Car makers saw sales fall 5 per cent in 2013-2014, while consumer durable manufactures slashed output by nearly 4.2 per cent in the last financial year as appetite for large sales fell in the market.
Analysts say projects worth $160 billion are stuck in the pipeline as policy logjams delayed clearances undermining growth, consumer sentiment and the prospect of creating jobs.
However, investment bankers advising firms planning new factories or expansion of existing ones feel that if the BJP isn’t able to rustle up the numbers required to form a strong coalition of like-minded parties, the India story may remain diminished.
Standard & Poor’s sovereign credit analyst Kim Eng Tan had said last month: “The more parties involved in the next coalition government, the more likely policies will be incoherent and less supportive of credit attributes.”