Top minds of India Inc want govt to go beyond tax rate cut to attract foreign firms
Large infrastructure projects need standardisation in design and Indian companies should be part of it for ‘Make in India’ to succeed, said Deepak Hota, Chairman and Managing Director of BEML.
Addressing the Xavier Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship (XIME) national seminar on ‘Make in India: Making it work’ for which BusinessLine is a media partner, Hota said: “We have been telling the government to ensure that whenever there is a large infrastructure project, we need to standardise the design and make sure an Indian company is a part of it.”
“He added, “Under the Make in India initiative, Metro Rail has been a successful story for us. We have exported our product to 68 countries, but to maintain the momentum in the export market, it is tough and while it is easy to say ‘Make in India’ for the world, it is very difficult to follow up.”
Citing an example of a situtation faced by BEML while executing the metro project, Hota said that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) insists on a certain percentage of sourcing from Japan.
Hota said in public procurement, MSMEs need to be encouraged and the government should increase it from 20 per cent to 25 per cent.
B Muthuraman, former vice-chairman of Tata Steel, in his keynote address, stressed that manufacturing has to be competitive. He said, “If manufacturing fails to thrive, India’s economic future could come under question and, along with it, India’s dream of emerging as a global economic power will be under a cloud.”
“The government has done a lot by increasing the FDI percentage in various sectors and now we need to take it forward to achieve the goals. One must look at it as long term than in immediate developments,” he added.
He added, “I believe three principal actors are involved in the success of Make in India — government, industry and companies and, finally, the Indian ecosystem.”
Participating in a session on ‘Make in India – a bold initiative for India’s accelerated growth’, R Mukundan, Managing Director, Tata Chemicals, said that except for a few sectors, the overall context is okay. There was a context when government changed taxation rates to 15 per cent to attract investment from multinational companies based in China to manufacturing in India. . “But looking at our track record now, after 2020, this (Make in India) may be difficult. The programme started in 2014; of the 56 Japanese companies which wanted to relocate, only three companies have come.We now have to do a lot more for these companies to come here to set up base.”
In his presentation, Raghavan Srinivasan, Editor, The Hindu BusinessLine, said the ‘Make in India’ policy was timed well when a global re-alignment was taking place and there was a window of opportunity for India to develop alternative manufacturing hubs for the world.
“It was a well-thought out policy as 15 to 16 sectors in India had a lot to offer including access to market, skills and resources. What we need to see is whether it has really worked,” he said.
Quoting an UNCTAD report, Srinivasan said that India was among the top 20 countries in the world to attract investments. In South Asia, India topped with 85 per cent of investment flow, but what was surprising was that in outbound FDI, it topped in the region with $12 billion investment abroad.
He said: “An analysis of this investment abroad shows that it has led to acquisition of technology and secured market access, talent & IP.”
The seminar was inaugurated by the Guest of Honour, Dr Jaimini Bhagwati, IFS (Retd.) and Former Indian High Commissioner to the UK, in the presence of B Muthuraman, Former Vice Chairman, Tata Steel, Prof J Philip, Founder and Chairman, XIME, Deepak Hota, CMD, BEML and Kamal Bali, President and MD, Volvo.