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|March 20, 1998||
Industry hails Sinha's return to FM's post
Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Bombay
Industry has welcomed the appointment of Yashwant Sinha as finance minister and expressed confidence that he will be able to revive the sluggish Indian economy.
"The return of Sinha as the finance minister for the second time [he was finance minister in the short-lived Chandra Shekhar government in 1990-91] signifies the choice of a pragmatic, experienced administrator and policy-maker. This will send out a strong positive signal," said Confederation of Indian Industry president N Kumar.
Expressing confidence in Sinha, Kumar added, "The new government should now announce an early credit policy to improve credit availability to industry and help the investment climate in the country."
Kumar hoped that the new cabinet would focus on the reviving the economy, which is critical for instilling confidence in industry and generating fresh employment.
Indian Merchants' Chamber president Ram Gandhi hailed the appointment. "From the very first day, I knew the choice of the finance minister was either Yashwant Sinha or Jaswant Singh, and it is the former, just as I had expected."
Gandhi was sure that Sinha would make a difference. "He is from the Indian Administrative Services, and it will be easy for him to tackle the bureaucracy problem," stated Gandhi, adding, "The bureaucracy today is one of the major hurdles to the ongoing reform process.
Sinha was an IAS officer from the 1960 Bihar cadre and had served as principal secretary to the then Bihar chief ministers, Karpoori Thakur and Ram Sunder Dass.
Recalling Sinha's tenure as finance minister for four months in the Chandra Shekhar cabinet, Gandhi said, "He played a very crucial role when the Indian economy was under going a major crisis during Chandra Shekhar's government. I am sure he is a good choice and will prove his capability."
IndOcean Ventures Chief Executive Officer Pradeep Shah seconded Gandhi. "Before 1991, the Indian economy was in deep crisis and I think Yashwant Sinha, in his brief term, handled the situation smartly," recalled Shah, "I hope this time also he is able to boost investments in our country."
Though many had hoped that Jaswant Singh would become the finance minister, they are not unhappy at Sinha taking on the mantle.
"After Jaswant lost the election, the only other capable person was Sinha. So I am not disappointed," said Gandhi.
Nevertheless, difficult days lie ahead for the finance minister. "The budget will be the first litmus test for Sinha," pointed out Jardine Fleming head of research Nitin Anandkar. "But considering his past experience, I am sure he will prove his ability."
Another positive factor about the new incumbent is his pro-liberalisation image. "There were fears that Dr Murli Manohar Joshi might be appointed finance minister," says R P Purohit, an economist with Tata Services Ltd. "Dr Joshi was openly expressing his swadeshiideology. Had he become finance minister, multinational companies could have a faced a problem with him. Sinha is a good choice."
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