Free market forces stand united behind Narendra Modi!Industry captains today demanded a growth-oriented Budget and expressed the hope that the proposals would not be too populist.
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Free market forces stand united behind Narendra Modi.Industry captains today demanded a growth-oriented Budget and expressed the hope that the proposals would not be too populist. Fresh off his re-election as Chief Minister of Gujarat and amid expectations he could contend to be the next Prime Minister, Narendra Modi avoided talk of a bigger political future during a state investment event.Meanwhile,struggling to meet its budgeted disinvestment target of Rs. 30,000 crore for the 2012-13, the government is set to fix an even higher target of over Rs. 40,000 crore for the next fiscal year. An announcement on this is expected to be made by finance minister P Chidambaram as part of his Budget proposals next month. hindustan Times reports.The sixth edition of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit concluded in the state capital Gandhinagar with promises from the Bharatiya Janata Party government of investments worth Rs 40 lakh crore for the state. However, the Narendra Modi government's track record of converting pledged investments has been less than impressive.
A hike in the import duty on gold to curb its imports and tax sops to encourage people to replace idle gold with financial instruments may be in the offing.
The Finance Ministry is said to be considering these moves which may find a mention in the Budget.
"In the last two months gold imports have risen. It is a cause of concern. Steps are needed...something will be announced in Budget...may be an import duty hike," a senior Finance Ministry official said.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram has already expressed concern over rising imports of the precious metal and hinted at hiking duty on gold imports to curb its demand.
The Gujarat government today inked two agreements with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in order to promote innovation in industrial applications. The agreements on setting up a centre of excellence on water and encouraging doctoral research in industrial applications, respectively, were signed by Principal Secretary of Industry and Mines M Sahu on behalf of the state government and CII Executive Director (Technology) Anjan Das.
Gujarat government in partnership with CII is launching a doctoral research fellowship (DFIR) scheme, where industry would co-sponsor 50 PhD scholars per year for undertaking research in industrial applications, for four years," Das said.
While most industry captains praised Modi, the most lavish praise came from ADAG chairman Anil Ambani, who placed Modi on the same pedestal as Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel and Dhirubhai Ambani, as a visionary. He called Modi "king of kings"; at last year's Vibrant Gujarat, Anil Ambani had controversially said Modi should become a national leader.Ratan Tata, the star attraction of the 2009 Vibrant Gujarat summit for bringing Nano factory to Gujarat from West Bengal, said Gujarat stands out, the credit for which goes to Narendra Modi. He has set "high standards" for investment, said Tata.Adi Godrej, who came as Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) representative, spoke of Modi's "futuristic approach" in making Gujarat "one of the best investment destinations".Shashi Ruia of Essar, whose company was forced to pay thousands of crores as sales tax dues to Gujarat government, also referred to "Modi's vision and unparalleled leadership" â€" which was in complete contrast to his reference to being treated as "ghar ki murgi" (taken for granted) at a previous summit.
Most tycoons confined their focus on what they called "the entrepreneurial spirit of Gujarat". In fact, speaking of the great strides made by Gujarat in the past, General Motors' Lowell C Paddock recalled how Halol, where the GM plant came up decades ago, was connected with a "high-speed highway" with Vadodara. "Earlier, it took four hours to reach Vadodara but after the highway it takes just half-an-hour," he said.
Modi, who concluded the inaugural ceremony, said this summit was about "finding solutions" to the impact of global slowdown. "Despite the slowdown, Gujarat did reasonably well," he claimed, adding, "We did well with 10% rate of growth in service, industry and agricultural sectors." Modi further claimed Gujarat accounts for 72% of nation's employment generation, and the growth rate of small and medium industries was 85% in a year.
Industry captains today demanded a growth-oriented Budget and expressed the hope that the proposals would not be too populist.
"What is important is that it should be a growth-oriented Budget. What is badly needed for the country is growth. Anything that encourages growth is welcome," Godrej Group Chairman and President CII, Adi Godrej, who is here to attend the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, said.
Attending the three-day event, Engineering firm L&T's MD and CEO K Venkataraman said: "We are all expecting growth-oriented Budget. We will shortly have discussion with the PM and FM. So, it would be premature to comment."
Videocon IndustriesBSE -3.85 % Managing Director Rajkumar Dhoot, who is also here to attend the showpiece event of the Gujarat government, said: "I think, the Budget has to be growth- oriented. I also hope it is not going to be too populist in the last year for general elections."
Dhoot, who is also President of Assocham, requested Finance Minister P Chidambaram not to impose additional taxes on the rich.
"Industry is down. In this situation, taxes should not be hiked. It is being reported that the government is planning to impose higher taxes on rich people. I would request the Finance Minister not to do this for one year. Because the money rich people have is for investment," he said.
"Only investment can bring employment. It will ensure higher collection from excise and customs duties for the government. This will be good for the country and economy," he added.
The country recorded 9-year low annual economic growth of 6.5 per cent in 2011-12. The economy has grown by 5.4 per cent in the first half of this fiscal (April-September). The government expects to close the fiscal year under 5.7 per cent.
UK treads cautiously
British high commissioner James Bevan, who met Narendra Modi in October after the British felt the need to "engage Modi", was cautious at the inaugural session of the Vibrant Gujarat meet. Bevan avoided any direct or indirect reference to Modi, even while speaking about "natural" and "traditional" partnership between Gujarat and Britain over several centuries. Recalling the huge Gujarati population at Leicester, he hoped for a "thriving and stronger relationship" with Gujarat.
Mukesh Ambani of the Reliance Industries said his company will invest Rs 100,000 crore over the next five years and focus on expansion in Jamnagar, Hazira and Dahej, apart from setting up a higher education hub. Essar chairman Shashi Ruia said his company was proposing to invest Rs 14,000 crore â€" Rs 10,000 crore in ports sector at Hazira and Salaya, and Rs 4,000 crore in bulk water supply.
"The government's effort would be to fetch a much higher amount from disinvestment in 2013-14 and accordingly the disinvestment target for the next fiscal is likely to be a minimum Rs. 40,000 crore," a senior government official, who did not wish to be identified, said.
The disinvestment exercise would be a key focus area for the government in 2013-14, in order to generate revenues to aid bringing down the fiscal deficit, currently targeted at 4.8% of the GDP in 2013-14 as against the 5.3% expected in 2012-13.
In 2011-12, the finance ministry could raise only Rs. 14,000 crore against the targeted Rs. 40,000 crore from disinvestment proceeds.
Similarly, the Budget in the current fiscal anticipated a Rs. 30,000 crore mop-up from disinvestments, but it is now expected that proposed stake sales may fetch only Rs. 20,000 crore, though some expect a higher amount.
NTPC is the only big-ticket disinvestment that is expected to fetch the government close to Rs. 12,000 crore. A sale of Oil India stocks, listed for February, is expected to add another Rs. 2,700 crore to the kitty.
The Cabinet recently cleared a disinvestment in Engineers India Ltd, but the share issue is well likely to slip to the next fiscal year despite the government's best efforts to make it happen within this fiscal year.
Minority stake sale in a few PSUs such as NMDC, Hindustan Copper and NBCC have brought in about Rs. 7,000 crore.
India's fiscal deficit during the April-November period was Rs. 4.13 trillion ($76.2 billion) or 80.4% of the budgeted full fiscal year 2012-13 target, government data showed on Monday.
During the same period in the previous fiscal year, the deficit was 85.6% of the budget
Net tax receipts for April-November stood at Rs. 3.7 trillion while total expenditure was about Rs. 8.7 trillion.
In March, the government had budgeted a fiscal deficit of Rs. 5.14 trillion, or 5.1% of the gross domestic product (GDP) for the fiscal year that ends in March 2013.
However, in October, strained finances forced the centre to revise the deficit target to 5.3%. ($1 = Rs. 54.21)
Fresh off his re-election as Chief Minister of Gujarat and amid expectations he could contend to be the next Prime Minister, Narendra Modi avoided talk of a bigger political future during a state investment event.
Still, Modi, one of India's most popular and divisive politicians, was the star of his "Vibrant Gujarat Summit," which featured a parade of corporate heavyweights as well as foreign officials who extolled the business-friendly state and Modi's leadership even as they mostly kept clear of politics.
"In Gujarat, we see a culture of implementation, reflecting the qualities of the Chief Minister," Cyrus Mistry, who recently succeeded Ratan Tata as head of the Tata Group, India's biggest business house, said from a stage he shared with Modi.
In one of Modi's biggest wins, in 2008 he convinced Tata Motors to build a factory in the state for its low-cost Nano after its plans to make the car in West Bengal were disrupted by farmers.
In December, Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won 115 of the state Assembly's 182 seats against 61 for the Congress party, which heads a national government that has been beset by corruption scandals and presided over an economy on track this fiscal year for its slowest growth in a decade.
Modi appeared to downplay ambitions for higher office, making a point of inviting delegates to the next edition of the event in 2015. "When I gave a similar invitation in 2011, the media had mocked me saying I was yet to be re-elected and was already issuing invitations. This time, there is no such problem," he said in his closing remarks, delivered in Hindi.
Modi cancelled a press conference planned for Saturday due to "urgent work," according to a text message from organisers.
Gujarat, with a long tradition of entrepreneurship, has been a magnet for industrial investment thanks in part to what is widely regarded as efficient state government, which stands in contrast to the red tape and unpredictability elsewhere in India that frustrate businesses and investors.
While Modi, 62, wins praise for that, critics have accused him of not doing enough to stop - or of even quietly encouraging - religious riots in 2002 that saw as many as 2,000 killed, most of them Muslims, which makes him a controversial choice for the BJP despite his star power.
India is due to hold general elections by 2014.
One of the few major executives in attendance to speak openly of Modi as candidate for prime minister was Sanjay Lalbhai, chairman of Arvind Ltd , a textile maker based in nearby Ahmedabad.
"We are dealing with him as the Chief Minister of Gujarat as of now, but I am sure he has the decision-manking and leadershipskills required at the national level," he told Reuters.
Others lauding Modi included the billionaire Ambani brothers, whose Gujarat-born father founded Reliance Industries, India's most valuable company and operator of the world's biggest refinery, in Jamnagar.
"Gujarat has been the birthplace of India's greatest leaders. What all these men have said about leadership, Narendrabhai has practised in his 10-year tenure as Chief Minister," Anil Ambani said, stopping short of expressing support for Modi as a potential prime minister, which he did in 2009.
Shekhar Iyer, senior associate editor, Hindustan Times, said the presence of corporate heavyweights was a demonstration of industry support for Modi as a potential prime minister.
"That underlying support is always there for him, because he is seen as a kind of person who can get things done, and he understands industry," Iyer said.
The sixth edition of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit concluded in the state capital Gandhinagar on Saturday evening with promises from the Bharatiya Janata Party government of investments worth Rs 40 lakh crore for the state.
However, the Narendra Modi government's track-record of converting pledged investments into reality has been less than impressive, with even Modi, who swept through the Gujarat elections in December 2012 to become the Chief Minister of the western state for the fourth time, choosing to downplay the numbers during the summit.
"Those people who weigh the success of this summit only on the amount of money pledged will not understand what this is all about. Maybe after 10 years, they will," said Modi, who has been speculated to become a potential prime ministerial candidate of the BJP for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, after his third consecutive win in Gujarat.
Vibrant Gujarat 2013 was the biggest so far with the summit seeing 17,719 business proposals and promised investments worth Rs 40 lakh crore, which is double the figure promised at 2012 summit. However, only 15 per cent of the total investments proposed in the first four investors' summits have materialised. If the summit in 2011 is also taken into account, the number is even lower.
There has also been a steady dip in commissioning of large-scale projects, which have an investment of more than 10 crore, over the past few years. While in 2005, 422 projects worth Rs 16,500 crore had begun commercial production, the numbers dipped to 75 projects in 2011.
"As of today, there has been a 70 per cent decline in projects being commissioned as compared to 1995. Modi is a master at creating a lot of noise," said Arjun Modhvadia, president of Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC).
PREDICTIONS FOR 2013- A range of predictions for Calcutta, West Bengal and India
|The thin edge|
This is the first column of the still frozen-fresh new year so I'm going to follow the ritual of making impossible conjectures about the months ahead, and predictions that are bound to fail. To give a false structure to this totally random list, I'm going to start with the local, that is, Calcutta and Bengal, and move to the national. To try and cover all possible outcomes, I'm going to divide each part into three sections: the dire/nightmarish, the probable/boring, and the fantastical, aka hallucinogenic drug-induced optimism.
Dire: Even as the dark night of the later CPI(M) rule recedes, the newer, even thicker night will, finally, totally swallow the brief, measly dawn. If you think things have been bad over the last year-and-a-half, just wait for the next 18 months. The taxi drivers will only be quiet till the fuel prices go up again. It's rumoured the cops haven't been paid their DA for some months. Various gangsters across the city have reportedly held back on the turf wars on account of the fading Trinamul Congress honeymoon but that party's now well and truly over and the rival kingpins are getting restive. The Stabrinx is shooting up all over town, as it is over the state. (What is that, you ask? That's the Standard Bribe Index which tracks the ghoosh-percentage various officials are charging at any given point in time.) Between paranoia, incompetence, bribery and thuggery, the chaos on the streets of Calcutta will increase. In the meantime, at the edges of the city, the local civil war will gain momentum. Murder and mayhem in the countryside will increase as well. The vast majority of Bengal will grow poorer. But the rich will grow no richer, unlike in some other states. At some point in this year, the unfeeling wealthy of Posh-Bongo will go into a panic — they will begin to devour each other and anyone and anything else they can lay their hands on. All through this epic tragicomedy, the state's environment will continue to get closer and closer to hell. By the end of 2013, we will be fighting each other, even as we fight for clean air and safe water, even as we flounder in an undeniable emergency with weird new viruses and diseases.
Boring: Things will stay in this finely balanced stasis, like one of those massive old boulders that have stayed on eternal tiptoe, perched on the edge of a deep cliff for millenia. The TMC will hold on to power without too much trouble but that will only mean that it continues to do nothing that resembles a live government administration. KKR will get to the semi-finals and there will be an even bigger party than last year. A Korean firm will come in to replace the one that's walked out of the metro negotiations. The Koreans will, in turn, not quite have walked out by next December, so that will go into the khaataof 2014.
Happy: The TMC will take a bad hit in the panchayat elections and split even more openly from then onwards. This will force Mamata Banerjee to do stuff, make positive moves, control bribery and thuggery and allow her money-boffins a freer hand to bring in a steadily growing trickle of investment into the state. However, this will not be enough to stop the rise of a fourth, progressive, green alliance that is neither corrupt, nor religio-dictatorial, nor successor-driven in structure, nor in thrall to big money, nor in love with dead and rancid Stalinism. On the streets of the city, people will start to become more caring of each other as the disease of the 'me first' attitude starts to die out. All kinds of citizens' initiatives in the towns and villages will feed into the alternative politics of the fourth front (see above). Come Jan 1, 2014, we will start looking back at '13 as the year in which the tide finally began to turn for Bengal.
Nightmarish: The huge anger, or actually, the huge amalgamation of different kinds of anger that we've seen erupt since the 2G scandal and Anna Hazare's little jaunt into Delhi, and seen rising yet again post the Delhi gangrape, will find no release and will suppurate just under the skin of Indian society. The Manmohan Singh government will lurch from decision to disastrous decision, trying to hang on to power while it tries to find the silver bullet that will win the next elections. The hawkish elements within the UPA will see the starting of a dangerous brawl on the LoC as a seductive option and drag us into a disastrous mini-war with Pakistan. This will be launched in order to distract people from the corruption scandals, the shame of the Delhi rape-murder-police brutality that is Indiagate, the sordid and relentless destruction of our environment in the name of 'progress' and all that 'Opposition propaganda' stuff. The war will cut deep in several directions, all of them ugly and tragic. It will lose us any moral upper hand we might currently have internationally. It will be the final axle-breaker for our yawing, steering-gone economy. It will allow all sorts of jingoistic snake-oil salesmen to fission up like rogue nuke reactors. By December we'll either already be living under the nation's nemesis or be facing the strong possibility of such an eventuality. Tendulkar will retire from all international cricket.
Same-to-Same: The UPA will manage to do what the Indian cricket team can't — it will dig in and manage to play for a draw till stumps on the last day, or at least till the end of the year. In this it will be helped by the bizarre caste of characters who people the Opposition, clowns and charlatans mostly, who will be so busy angling for the beckoning spoils of power they will drive their SUVs over each other's sneaker-shod feet. The FDI carpet-baggers will land but will make no headway, so both sides of the 'debate' will be happy and both will claim victory. The poor will be increasingly embattled in attaining their daily needs but the rich will stop getting richer (what Bengal does today, India does…). The protests and anger will shift from the small matter of how one half of our population, the men, continually batters the other half, the women. Some other issue will pop up for popular anger to engulf and, again, each political party will compute whether this will help them or hurt them rather than on what is right and wrong. However, war will be averted, or at least squeezed and pushed down out of sight of the media, but only till it can be switched on again at some opportune electoral moment. Tendulkar will still be playing for the Indian test team, having scored one more century and several beautiful 30s.
Ecstacy-addicted: The groundswell of anger rising from the rape and murder will not go away. Far from being distracted by false wars and decoy issues, we will see a wide range of the urban Indian citizenry actually beginning to dynamically join the dots between rape and corruption, between environmental degradation and religious fundamentalism, between the mutually supportive hypocrisies of the Left mainstream parties and the Right.
The fact that these conclusions can't be erased by spin or official thuggery will be manifested through a rising, democratic, non-violent spreading of public protest. 2013 will be the year when many of our seemingly immovable notions start, en masse, to go into the shredder: 'Women are the weaker sex', 'men will be men', 'people's religious sensitivities are paramount', 'the obscenely wealthy merely have better karma than the obscenely poor', 'the rich should be given their head so that they can lead us out of this economic quagmire', 'the environment has to take a backseat sometimes, if we want development', 'the police are always right', 'the army is always honourable', 'you can't rescind the AFSPA if you want security at our borders', 'security is what the authorities tell us it is', it's okay if a politician is corrupt within certain limits as long as he or she actually "does" something for the people', 'the only way to rule the country/have a revolution/achieve freedom is through the barrel of an AK-47', and so on. 2013 will be the year when the nation's sporting imagination finally shoves aside cricket to let in other sports big time. 2013 will be the last edition of the inglorious IPL, which fewer and fewer people will watch. Sachin Tendulkar will have retired from all forms of cricket and we will finally be able to cherish the memories of his great career.