The Telegraph
Tuesday , December 24 , 2013
CIMA Gallary

New Ficci chief lists hurdles

Birla: Points to ponder

New Delhi, Dec. 23: Sidharth Birla, the newly elected president of Ficci and chairman of Xpro India Ltd, today said the government needed to urgently take steps to check fiscal deficit and speed up project clearances.

“The government has to take important as well as urgent measures. Keeping the fiscal deficit in check is an urgent measure that needs to be taken. It will send a strong signal to the industry and instill foreign investor confidence,” Birla told The Telegraph.

Industry has been demanding a leash on the financing of fiscal deficit by commercial borrowing as it crowds out companies from the credit market.

Finance minister P. Chidambaram has maintained that fiscal deficit will be contained at 4.8 per cent of the gross domestic product in the current fiscal.

Further, Birla said the availability of natural resources such as iron ore, limestone and coal needed to be streamlined.

“It is not that all these resources are not available in the country. The thing which has to be worked out is the speed, and certainty with which these resources can be accessed. The government needs to work on co-ordinating between agencies and the state governments to ensure that the supply of these materials is consistent.”

Despite 2014 being an election year, Birla says it will be business as usual for industry. “I believe that industry is not waiting for the elections to be over to make investments as the overall business environment in India is good.”

Birla sought a transparent mechanism for coal auctions. “The government needs to remove arbitrariness. In the short time it has before the elections, it should work on putting stricter time schedules to complete the auctions,” he said.

According to Birla, Ficci is targeting a 10 per cent manufacturing growth in the long run. It will be pushing for pro-active labour policies to help the manufacturing sector grow and provide 67 million jobs by 2025.