India Inc reacted cautiously to the BJP manifesto, which says the party would attract foreign investment in areas that create jobs and keep foreign capital out of multi-brand trade.
“We feel disappointment on the stand on FDI in multi-brand retail, we hold out hope for a possible review in the future,” said FICCI president Sidharth Birla, while welcoming an investment-friendly environment and linking of foreign investment to jobs. “The BJP manifesto outlines multiple measures for inclusive development, with focus on governance, growth and employment. These are arguably the key concerns facing the economy today.”
The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry said it will impress upon the BJP to reconsider its stand on multi-brand retail, as this sector has the potential for a multiplier effect on the Indian economy without disturbing neighbourhood stores.
In its manifesto, the BJP said it will also make the Foreign Investment Promotion Board more efficient and investor-friendly, and promised to make the tax regime simple. It accused the present government of unleashing “tax terrorism” and “uncertainty.”
On proposed goods and services tax, the party said it would bring on board all state governments and address their concerns. Assocham welcomed the BJP’s focus on building important infrastructure and giving a boost to urbanisation by building 100 new cities.
According to Rajrishi Singhal of the Mumbai-based foreign policy think-tank Gateway House, concerns of mom-and-pop store owners have stopped the BJP’s manifesto from eradicating supply chain bottlenecks by encouraging FDI in retail trade.
“The manifesto is unequivocally clear that it will not allow FDI in multi-brand retail, in keeping with its recent public announcements. Voter interest also stops it from chipping away at the multiple layers that add to food supply chain inefficiencies and food inflation,” said Singhal.
Singhal added that the BJP’s manifesto vows to build 100 new cities. However, it does not furnish details of the time-frame in which this would be done. “The BJP needs to have clear idea whether the public distribution system and cut in indirect taxes is linked and similarly is employment targeted instead of investment? And what are the steps taken to check black liquidity,” says Prof Arun Kumar an expert on macro economics.
Many believe that FDI in retail should have been included. “Current system of marketing is wasteful. We almost lose half of our agricultural produce. I would like FDI in multi-brand retail as well. It will not only minimise the monoply of wholesalers and provide competition, but also help producers control fluctuating prices,” said Sanjeev K Grewal, who teaches at the department of economics in St Stephens College of Delhi University.
—(With inputs from IANS
‘A ritual document’
Prof SK Jain of Centre of Economic Studies and Planning at Jawaharlal Nehru University, says politicial parties can make any claims in their manifestos. “In India, they don’t bother about the promises due to lack of accountability. So, manifestos and numbers included are just last-minute magic tricks to put voters into a trance,” he said
Former chief economic advisor to government of India, Arvind Virmani, says the BJP has stressed on institutional reforms, including e-governance, which is encouraging and its stress is on redevelopment. “The manifesto outlines multiple measures for inclusive development, with focus on governance, growth and employment,” said FICCI president Sidharth Birla