The Telegraph
Tuesday , May 20 , 2014
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Chambers vie for attention

New Delhi, May 19: Apex industry associations Ficci and the CII are in a race to grab the attention of the new NDA government with their wish lists.

Ficci has come out with a document which among other things, wants the resolution of tax disputes, including retrospective taxation.

The focus of the CII report, on the other hand, appears to be on the ease of doing business.

The government “needs to resolve retrospective and other taxation issues and ensure that the environment is conducive for taxpayers,” said Ficci president Sidharth Birla

CII president Ajay Shriram has placed his suggestions in the wake of the World Bank ranking India 134th among 189 nations in the ease of doing business.

The duo do not have a very different worldview — they both want faster reforms and a more business friendly climate.

What they differ is on the specifics that are largely dictated by the interests of their members.

The two chambers do have a history of rivalry over wooing the ruling regime.

After liberalisation in 1991, the CII replaced Ficci as the favourite of the North Block, dominated by the Manmohan Singh-Montek Singh Ahluwalia duo.

The chamber, which draws upon professional CEOs as office bearers as opposed to owners who dominate Ficci, was seen as being more open to liberalisation.

When the NDA was in office for the first time, Ficci made a comeback. The CII had questioned the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s handling of the riots in 2002. The state later chose Ficci to stage its “Vibrant Gujarat” investment show. During the UPA’s second tenure (2009-14), Ficci also hosted the Pravasi Bharati jamborees, which were once organised by the CII.

With a new government in power, both the chambers have once again jumped into the fray to get its attention.

However, on the controversial issue of FDI in retail, the CII remained silent while Ficci tried to skirt the issue.

Both the chambers had been vocal about allowing FDI in retail and had even urged the BJP and the AAP governments in Rajasthan and Delhi, respectively, to give a green signal to the proposal.

Analysts said that while the CII was focused on reviving manufacturing, Ficci stressed on farm sector growth along with industrial revival.