Leading businessmen in Tamil Nadu today requested Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to look into issues related to the industrial sector for improving the business climate in the country. During an interactive session on 'Crafting an Economic Turnaround', organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), R Seshasayee, non-executive vice chairman of Ashok Leyland, said, 8-9 per cent growth was the need of the hour and the country needed more foreign capital inflows, particularly in infrastructure, which is a huge challenge. Senior industry leaders from automotive, healthcare, agri machinery, textiles and chemicals participated in the meet. Read our full coverage on Union Budget The Centre should aim at making India globally competitive and focus on issues relating to taxation and the ease of doing business, said Seshasayee. Venu Srinivasan, chairman of TVS Motor Company, raised several issues with the new Companies Act that was introduced by the previous government at the Centre. Jaitley, while expressing surprise on what the industry associations were doing when the Bill came up for discussion, said, the present government was amending some of the provisions and added it is under the consideration of Rajya Sabha. N Srinivasan, vice-chairman & managing director of India Cements said their was a need to give a boost to road development and housing in order to kickstart the demand for cement. He said this would help the existing cement units run at full capacity besides giving a boost to the local manufacturing. During the last NDA regime (1999-2004), the cement industry had witnessed double-digit growth in demand, which continued till 2006. Based on those projections, the industry had invested in additional capacity.
However, in the last five years, he said, there had been no growth. For the last three years, the industry had been struggling and was operating at 50-55 per cent capacity, he added. According to Srinivasan, the cement industry is among the largest tax revenue contributor to the exchequer and it was not asking for any relief in the Budget. The target, however, should be to support the local industry by creating demand and helping it run at full capacity, he said. Meanwhile, Jaitley said, during the previous NDA regime, it had made cement utilisation as mandatory for laying the roads. Pratap C Reddy, founder and vice chairman of Apollo Hospitals, urged the finance minister to introduce PPP model in healthcare and accord infrastructure status to the sector, which would allow hospitals chain to get funds at competitive rates. Mallika Srinivasan, chairman and CEO of TAFE, said the agriculture sector witnessed a decline in the recent past and the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) had become a concern. Jaitley replied the government was taking various measures to improve the agriculture growth. On the FTAs, he said, it was a legacy issue and the government would take care of the issues of the domestic firms before inking them.