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  1. At WEF, biz leaders cautiously optimistic on India prospects

At WEF, biz leaders cautiously optimistic on India prospects

As the five-day talkfest of the world's elite drew to a close in Davos, business and government leaders from India were cautiously optimistic about the country consolidating its position...

By: | Davos | Updated: January 24, 2016 12:42 AM
On the last day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) meet today, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the reform process would continue unhindered and without any impact of political opposition. (Reuters)

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

As the five-day talkfest of the world’s elite drew to a close in Davos, business and government leaders from India were cautiously optimistic about the country consolidating its position as the ‘bright spot’ of global economy, continuing its reform process and making doing business easier.

On the last day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) meet on Saturday, Union 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, 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.

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 Lagarde and British chancellor George Osborne, were optimistic China would recover soon without any hard landing.

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

ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar said the mix of growth contributors is another factor that 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 key reform measures getting stuck due to political reasons, Kochhar said, “I don’t think investor queries are in any way reflecting concerns with regard to the growth potential. Foremost, India is in a better position today compared with even a year ago and in a stronger position compared with emerging market economies.” 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% in favourable conditions and if rural economy gets a boost too,” he said, calling 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 GP 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 are 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 said it presents India an opportunity to consolidate its position as a ‘bright spot’.

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

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