Waiting for govt to walk the talk: MNCs

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 11, 2014 23:18 IST

Seeking more clarity on policy and regulation in India, foreign companies on Thursday said the process of doing business in the country would be much easier if bottlenecks are removed, even as the government said it is taking all steps to remove red-tapism.

The world’s second-largest telecom firm Vodafone, which has been facing taxation issues in India, said it was difficult for multinationals to do business in the country because of slow government clearances.

“Yes, it is difficult to do business in India, that’s the general perception I think of foreign companies and that is not just in telecom,” Vodafone India head Marten Pieters said while speaking at the Economist India Summit in the Capital.

“The telecom sector needs more focus,” he added.

Concurring with the perception, BP, Europe’s second-largest oil company, said delays over a decision on natural gas pricing was holding back its investments worth $4 billion (or Rs. 24,000 crore) in India’s oil and gas sector.

“We are ready to go ahead with our first project, which is probably a $4-billion project… we are getting ready to potentially move that forward (but) are waiting for the gas price decision… So is that frustration, yes because it was decided in June 2013,” said Sashi Mukundan, head of BP India and its regional president.

“The PM should set up an energy advisory board... oil and gas in India are still being imported although it has the resources under the ground, $180 billion of oil imports are coming in which may grow to $200-300,” he said.

Amazon India vice-president and MD India Amit Agarwal said opening the e-commerce sector to foreign direct investment would help accelerate India’s $3-billion online retail market.

“The penetration of the Internet market might not be very deep but in absolute numbers, it is huge and is still growing... We are already very successful but FDI would make possible to spin it more aggressively,” he said.

Amazon, which operates on a marketplace model in India, is betting big on the country and has announced investment of $ 2 billion to expand its operations here.

Highlighting the government’s reform measures, Amitabh Kant, secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, listed a host of steps the government had taken , such as shifting all applications for industrial licences online, to ease the process of doing business.

“The government has cut out rules, red-tapism and bureaucracy. It is taking steps to ensure fiscal credibility and consolidation, creating smart cities and improving confidence of investors. It is not against liberalisation of trade policies. It will find the right path between food and trade policy,” he said.

“It is important to concentrate on the breadth of development taking place, rather than the gradual or the incremental growth. Infrastructure will provide maximum jobs and the budget has addressed it,” said Sidharth Birla, president, Ficci.

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