Achieving political consensus for impending policy reforms tops the agenda of R V Kanoria, the newly-elected president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). Excerpts from an interview:
What will be the chamber's agenda for 2012?
We are obsessed with debating on issues but not concluding. Shift from party-based politics to issue -based politics will remain foremost agenda where parliamentarians and states should be educated on issues such as FDI, food bill, goods and services tax (GST) and other impending legislations. The focus from tax rates to tax administration and creation of transparent regime for penalties is also important.
What is your perspective on bringing back black money parked overseas?
An out-of-the- box solution has to be resorted to if one wants to bring back the money stashed abroad. It is desirable to have amnesty scheme but with moderate penalty slabs. Any kind of amnesty is immoral, but our economy needs money to meet fiscal deficit and other circumstances.
What could be the repercussions of the Euro zone crisis on Indian economy?
Most of our entrepreneurs have bred in adversity which has preached the lessons of crisis management to them. Indian story is very much intact and safe. However, the government must not try to curb the demand by tightening the monetary policy otherwise it will effect adversely.
What are your expectations from the budget 2012-13?
This budget should be bold and realistic. It should help us in increasing revenues and reducing expenditure, may be through pending strategic disinvestments. It should introduce simpler tax administration in form of GST followed by impending food bill. I believe if the UID project had taken off successfully it would have eased a lot of government’s burden.
Hiring sentiments are sinking, say series of surveys.
Actually it is quite the opposite. I have been closely associated with the jute industry, I have not seen labour shortage of this kind ever before. A part of it has to do be poor implementation of the NREGA scheme which serves the comfort of wages without work.
Your views on FDI in multi brand retail?
There was a lot of skepticism about the future of the Indian food chains at the time of the entry of Pizza Hut and McDonalds. Today Indian brands such as Haldirams, Nirulas and many others have become multinational companies. FDI will bring skills. Competition in any industry is always good for the consumer and the industry.