Business Leaders Cautiously Optimistic on India's Prospects

Business Leaders Cautiously Optimistic on India's Prospects
Davos: As the five-day talkfest of the world's elite draws to a close here, business and government leaders from India are cautiously optimistic about India consolidating its position as the 'bright spot' of global economy continuing its reform process and making it easier to do business in the country.

On the last day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) meet on Saturday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the reform process would continue unhindered and without any impact of political opposition.

He also admitted that 'ease of doing business' remains a continuing process and more will be done on that front.

Expecting the government to continue with its reform agenda, the business leaders from India and abroad also underlined the need for India to grab the opportunity in the current global economic scenario.

With China facing economic troubles and other members of the emerging nations' bloc BRICS falling off the cliff for one or another reason, India is better placed in the current situation.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde said India has emerged as one of the fastest growing economies unlike other BRICS members.

At the same time, a number of world leaders, including Ms Lagarde and British Chancellor George Osborne, were optimistic that China would recover soon without any hard landing.

Meanwhile, Mr Jaitley and various business leaders called for the need to evolve more growth engines for Indian economy.

ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar said the mix of growth contributors is another factor which needs to evolve.

India has so far primarily been a services-driven economy. Going ahead, manufacturing needs to pick up momentum in order to bolster our growth path and provide gainful employment to our growing workforce, she said.

Asked whether investors have expressed concern here about some key reform measures getting stuck due to political reasons, Ms Kochhar said, "I don't think investor queries are in anyway reflecting concerns with regard to the growth potential in the economy."

"Foremost, India is in a better position today compared with even a year ago and in a stronger position even compared with other emerging market economies," she said.

Second, the government has clearly articulated its commitment to growth-friendly policies and reforms that are being pursued with timelines wherever possible, she added.

According to industry body CII's Director General, Chandrajit Banerjee, at the WEF meeting last year, leaders expressed a lot of hope from India and this year, some sort of cross-check was done with positive outcomes.

"India can grow at over 8 per cent in favourable conditions and if rural economy gets a boost too," he said and called for measures to boost non-farm income in rural areas to guard against bad monsoons and other weather-related issues.

"We can certainly further re-energise the economy with proposed reforms like GST and further ease of doing business," he noted.

Diversified Hinduja Group co-chairman G P Hinduja said businesses need to follow a diversified approach with respect to sectors as well as regions to better deal with global shocks.

"All BRICS countries except India is facing troubles and Europe is going through bad times... Now is the time for India to grab the opportunity. It can be done by improving ease of doing business to attract foreign investors," he said.

Vedanta group Chairman Anil Agarwal also said it presents India an opportunity to consolidate its position as a bright spot.

With regard to this year's WEF theme - fourth industrial revolution - and the role of technology to transform mankind, he said India is poised to lead this revolution also.

Speaking at 'The Global Economic Outlook' session on the last day of the WEF summit, Mr Jaitley agreed that the new trends on technology and the fourth industrial revolution would indeed benefit India.

Earlier this week, Hindustan Powerprojects chairman Ratul Puri had said that since the global financial community is looking for good projects, the focus would be on India at WEF.

"With political stability returning to the country, India must carry on with the efforts towards building foreign

investor confidence."

"The global developments have placed India in an advantageous position and the Indian government must remain focussed and stay true to its vision, thereby capturing the opportunities," Mr Puri had said.

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