Narayana Murthy requests Chidambaram to set things 'right'
Expressing hope that new finance minister P Chidambaram will "set right" things at the earliest, business leader NR Narayana Murthy on Friday said the government and the opposition should declare that they would never do anything on "retrospective basis".
"...say that we will never do anything on retrospective basis, both the ruling party and the leader of Opposition must say this, because who knows, some other time if some other government comes and says, we will do something on retrospective basis. Therefore all our political masters will have to agree on the same thing," Murthy told NDTV.
Murthy, who is also Infosys co-founder and chairman Emeritus, apparently had in mind the raging controversy over the retrospective amendment provisions in the tax laws in this year's budget and the adverse effect they had on investor sentiments.
He said the first requirement for doing business between two entities is trust and nothing that reduces trust should be done.
"Now when the Supreme Court has actually passed a certain decision and for us to actually go back and say that we will go back and change the law on retrospective basis, is actually like taking a pistol and shooting ourselves and that doesn't make sense," he said in an apparent reference to the Vodafone tax case.
Murthy said he hoped Chidambaram, who is known to take some quick decisions, will "set this right as early as possible".
"I have a lot of respect for Chidambaram and a lot of instances where he has taken quick decisions. Therefore, I don't want to advise him but request him to set this right as early as possible," he said.
Disappointed with government's slow pace of decision making, Murthy said India's growth potential has been affected by the inaction and lack of urgency by its bureaucrats.
"I keep meeting lots of corporate leaders outside India... About 6 or 7 years ago, if China was mentioned three times, India would be mentioned once. Today, China is mentioned 30 times, India is not mentioned even once. That in some sense tells the whole story. There is nothing more I need to add," Murthy said.
"That means we have cut our own legs by our inactions, by our policies, all of that," he added.
Even in the past, Murthy has expressed anguish over what seems like policy paralysis, saying it has hurt India's image.
His peer and Wipro head Azim Premji has also voiced concerns on the issue.
Saying that there are many areas where progress can take place without involvement of any legislation, Murthy cited an example where he had submitted a set of suggestions for removing some of the bottlenecks in the IT industry to the then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee more than 14 months ago.
"I met Mr. Mukherjee four times, I met the Prime Minister twice, I met the finance secretary, I met Kaushik Basu, the chief economic advisor three times, all of that. I mean just defining what is software exports, just making sure the growth of the industry is not curtailed by unnecessary clauses in the tax administration, it should not happen. This is nothing to do with the Parliament, this is nothing to do with any Opposition party, please," Murthy said.
He added that though he "fully sympathised" with the UPA government on issues that have in some ways immobilised them, there are many areas, which depend purely on "how quickly bureaucrats take decisions".
Expressing confidence in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Murthy said bureaucrats and ministers need to take quick decisions.
"All that I am requesting him (PM) is these are (his suggestions) all decisions that do not require any legislation, that will not depend on global financial crisis and these decisions will help India become better. Therefore, please encourage your bureaucrats, your ministers, to take quick decisions," he said.