With a comprehensive 100-day agenda for the government, Ajay Shriram, who recently took over as president of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), says the new government should focus on economic development with employment generation as its priority. Shriram, also chairman and senior managing director at DCM Shriram, points out in an interview with Kirtika Suneja that manufacturing needs a fillip by way of fast- tracking projects. Excerpts:
What are CII’s priority areas this year?
Our attempt was to identify the focus areas depending on the country’s priorities of national stability, growth, economic welfare and employment-creation. Hence, we will focus on 10 areas of education, skill development, economic growth, manufacturing, investments, ease of doing business, export competitiveness, legal and regulatory architecture, labour law reforms and entrepreneurship. This is not a three- or six- month agenda, but a long- term one.
What are the industry’s expectations of the new government?
We expect a stable government, whether coalition or a single-party one. Economic development is key, and both manufacturing and infrastructure growth require strong governance.
Which are the areas of immediate concern?
The areas that are of immediate importance are implementation of Goods and Service Tax (GST), infrastructure development for ease of doing business and boosting investor confidence. Besides, the Cabinet Committee on Investment has identified projects worth R6.5 lakh crore that have to be taken up by the centre and states for clearances.
You talked about India achieving the aspirational growth mark of 6% if the new government takes up economic reforms…
Things have looked better in the last 4-5 months and even the world economy is improving. We can achieve 6-6.5% as 85% of our economy is domestic. An increased focus on mass manufacturing sectors and labour-intensive service sectors, such as education and tourism, have resulted in reversal of decline in job creation.
Restructured labour laws are effective in encouraging employment creation while investment in agriculture removes supply bottlenecks. Infrastructure expansion takes place to create new capacity in roads, ports, airports and railways.
How was your meeting with the PM?
We had a very good discussion and the PM made observations on each area. He stressed a lot on urbanisation and the manufacturing sector. He also spoke on the importance of development of urban cities in tier 2 and 3 towns.