India Inc leaders, including Bharti Enterprises Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal, CII President Vikram Kirloskar and Assocham President Balkrishna Goenka, on Thursday asked the government to take measures to augment ease of doing business to "create more freedom for the industry to perform".
In a pre-Budget meeting with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the corporate leaders highlighted several issues, including certain income tax matters which were coming in the way of mergers and acquisitions or slowing them down and roles that need to be played by state businesses to prosper at the ground level.
"I have come here today to discuss only one thing -- make doing business easy in the country. That was what my thrust was," Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal told reporters after the meeting.
He said some suggestions around mergers and acquisitions (M&As), demerger, NCLT process, about certain sections of income tax which were coming in the way of M&A or slowing them down were made.
"The idea is to create more freedom for the industry, for them to perform. I think the finance minister received them very well with her associates and secretaries. What we look forward to this Budget is that they unleash the energy of the Indian entrepreneurs to do more," Mittal said.
Expressing similar views, Assocham President Balkrishna Goenka said for "ease of doing business, states have to play an important role" and last mile issues are there, which need to be resolved.
When asked about the meeting, CII President Vikram Kirloskar said, "We talked about ease of doing business, which are the issues concerning many industries."
RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group Sanjiv Goenka said the discussions "centred around more around what can be done to stimulate growth, to facilitate the ease of doing business".
"I think the finance minister and her team were extremely open to all suggestions," Goenka said, adding that "it is the first time I have seen this kind of response from the government".
On the current slowdown and its impact on capacity utilisation across many industries, he said, "We all recognised that it is going to take a couple of quarters, three quarters, four quarters, before this capacity gets utilised. We understand that, and that is the reality of the situation."
Ficci President Sandip Somany said the industry representatives gave suggestion to the FM "to reduce income tax for those who earn less than Rs 20 lakh in a year so that there is more disposable in the hands of consumers and the economy benefits".
He further said, "We have also asked the FM to take measures about reducing EMIs, which can happen only if the banks reduce the interest rates on loans."
Stating that while the RBI has cut 135 bps, banks have reduced only 45 bps, Somany said, "If there can be more transmission of RBI's cut to consumers, then the EMIs will be reduced and it will also improve consumption."
A finance ministry statement said, "During the interactive session lasting over two hours, prominent industrialists spoke about improving regulatory environment to safeguard investments through ease of doing business, increasing export competitiveness, reviving private investment and kick-starting growth measures."
In the pre-budget consultations in connection with the forthcoming General Budget 2020-21, industrialists also suggested many ways to boost the rural economy, especially to increase consumption, it added.
Other suggestions included improvement in insolvency process in relation to NCLTs and banks; faster mergers, acquisitions and demergers processes, ways to reduce time for FDI approval; structural changes in laws for effective and stable business environment; time-bound decisions for augmenting ease of doing business both at the central and state levels.
The industry leaders also called for new investment of capital for building infrastructure, CAPEX for infrastructure to boost the economy, preventing predatory pricing and dumping in India while facilitating R&D in India to boost Make in India, the statement said.
They also called for harnessing public-private-partnership (PPP) by leveraging social funding through a new programme and ensure liquidity for NBFCs with focus on the rural economy and ways to increase consumption in the economy, it added.
Other industry leaders who took part in the pre-Budget consultations were GMR Group CHairman BVN Rao, Ashok Leyland MD and CEO Vipin Sondhi, Wipro Global Chief Financial Officer Jatin Dalal, K Raheja Corp Group Group President Ravi Raheja and Patanjali Ayurved Ltd Chairman Acharya Balkrishan, among others.