FM hints at opening up more sectors

Written by Economy Bureau | New Delhi, Sep 27 | Updated: Sep 28 2007, 04:55am hrs
Making a strong pitch for opening up the economy, finance minister P Chidambaram on Thursday said opening sectors to competition would eventually benefit the country. He said this was more so in the case of sectors that have that have remained closed so far.

"It is axiomatic that more openness and more competition will benefit the sectors that remain closed or restricted as a matter of policy, and that is the direction in which we would like to move," he said.

The statement by the minister assumed importance as it could be seen as a prelude to government's willingness to open up more sectors.

Some of the sectors that have restricted access are banking, insurance, pension, aviation and media.

"Competition is driving growth in many other sectors: steel, textiles, pharmaceuticals, automobiles, home appliances, packaged food, computer hardware and software, banking and insurance," he said.

Making a strong case for opening up the economy, he said Indian companies have withstood foreign competition and are branching out to other countries as a part of their growth strategy. He also made a strong pitch for Indian companies to go global and achieve global ambitions.

"India's manufacturing and services sectors face increasing competition from overseas manufacturers and service providers. Many foreign companies have entered the Indian market through imports or local production. Far from being overawed or vanquished, Indian business has boldly ventured into other countries and has opened offices abroad, acquired factories and established new facilities. Foreign direct investment has become a two way street," he added.

On the issue of rising rupee, he said the rising value of rupee cannot just pose a challenge to exports but also to government's tax revenues. "The depreciation of the value of the dollar vis-a-vis the rupee has thrown up an unexpected downside risk: it has challenged our exports and our tax revenues, and we may find ourselves in a situation where we need to provide for the consequences of an appreciating currency," he said.