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|October 12, 1999||
Assocham draws up blueprint for first 100 days
With barely 24 hours to go for the formation of the new cabinet, a prominent section of the industry today said the government must abolish all residual industrial licensing and speed up the decision to disinvest 43 public sector units.
The blueprint developed for the first 100 days and beyond fully supports belt-tightening measures to correct the fiscal situation and improve business confidence.
Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry president K P Singh said there must be free movement of agricultural commodities, boosting of housing and construction sector, development of infrastructure on a private-public partnership format and setting up of a national IT commission under the chairmanship of the prime minister.
Releasing a paper for the government, the chamber suggested passing of all economic bills, establishment of a national internal trade commission, laws for debt recovery to be made more effective, revamping of various stock exchanges, introduction of a truly 'open sky aviation policy' and thorough review of the population control policy.
The Assocham chief regretted that successive governments have talked of putting in place measures like a new foreign exchange management regime, a new insurance regulatory system allowing greater competition, an updated Companies Act in tune with the present reality and a set of competition laws in keeping with the current international situation, yet none of these could be achieved, notwithstanding a good measure of unanimity among political parties.
Elaborating on proper governance, the chamber chief said, ''It should not be conceived in the narrow sense as it creates an ambience in which industry and trade can flourish, human development is possible, ensures literacy, health care, housing and a rising standard of living for every Indian. Efforts must be initiated with urgent reforms in the government machinery and should be restructured so that proliferating and unwanted government bodies can be done away with.
Referring to Assocham's suggestion for beyond 100 days, Singh said to achieve sustained annual industrial growth of 10 ten per cent by increasing productivity levels to global standards. tariffs must be brought down to levels prevailing in South-East Asian countries, integration of the variety of indirect taxes into an integrated value added tax to ensure that the domestic firms carry the same tax burden as their global counterparts. Also a 'bankruptcy' law to allow inefficient and unviable units to close down be introduced so as to help relocate the resources.
Singh recommended foreign direct investment in housing sector, amendment to the Land Acquisition Act, availability of fiscal concessions and reduction in property tax.
On the financial sector, he said, measures must be taken to start effective disinvestment process in the banking sector, overhaul of the laws for introducing a system of private foreclosure of debts, facilitate entry of more private sector players in the banking sector to improve overall efficiency, gradual move to capital account convertibility and a complete review of directed credit within the priority sector.
Also, there should be an integral policy to encourage and enable the merger of stock exchanges in the country. While derivatives trading could be introduced and extended to the stock-options along with index futures and options, all companies with a capital of Rs 100 million and above must go demat by year 2001, he said.
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