Corporate India guarded on Modi's charm offensive | business | Hindustan Times
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Corporate India guarded on Modi's charm offensive

business Updated: Feb 27, 2014 23:14 IST
HT Correspondent
Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi's address to business leaders, traders and finance professionals on Thursday was expected to give a sneak peek into the mindset of the party and its prime ministerial candidate on the economy, but it stopped short of giving out any details on what it would do to revive sagging growth should it be propelled to power in the national elections.

Industrialists were guarded in their responses.

"His speech was well meaning, but it is early days, let us see how he is able to translate vision into action," said Deepak Parekh, chairman HDFC.

Earlier in the day addressing traders, Modi urged neighbourhood store owners not to worry about challenges from "Big Retail", obliquely signalling a possible shift from the party's stand of opposing the entry of global supermarket chains such as the US giant Wal-Mart and Sweden's Ikea.

He also favoured the roll-out of a unified goods and services tax (GST) aimed at stitching together a common national market to replace a web of local levies such as octroi and value added tax (VAT).

Addressing business leaders and economists at a conclave organised by India Foundation, he said governance and trust deficits were bigger worries than fiscal deficit — the measure of how much the government borrows to fund its expenses.

"His statements on human resource, energy security and railways were positive; we hope more details will follow," said Ajit Ranade, president and chief economist of the Aditya Birla Group. "He seems to have the pulse of the issues."

Modi talked in favour of easing investment norms for infrastructure sectors, scrapping archaic laws, promoting research and innovation in agriculture and environment technology.

Sidharth Birla, president of industry body Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) said: "The road to economic recovery is not going to be easy, a person from right wing or left wing party has to deliver."

Gurcharan Das, operating advisor of ChrysCapital said, " Clarity on (BJP's approach to) foreign direct investment is welcome, but this has to be on sectors over and above what he (Modi) highlighted in his speech."