India Inc has welcomed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh taking control of the finance portfolio after P Chidambaram was named as the home minister, saying the country will stand to benefit at this crucial juncture.
"The prime minister has got a lot of experience and has a good team. He will have a broader vision since he is the prime minister and will now hold the key portfolio of finance," said Neeraj Singal, managing director, Bhushan Steel.
Manmohan Singh is considered the architect of the country's reform programme, started more than a decade ago, when he was the finance minister. He is credited with transforming the Indian economy. Singh was also secretary (economic affairs) and deputy chairman of the Planning Commission.
With the additional charge, industrialists expect the prime minister to coordinate policies more effectively and script plans that will help the economy tide over difficult times.
India's economy is expected to grow at a slower pace of less than 7 per cent in the financial year ending March 2009 as major global economies battle with credit crisis, falling commodity prices and slowing demand.
Singh, who attended the G-20 meeting in Washington recently, sought an increased role of developing countries in the new financial architecture after the global downturn.
"If the prime minister handles finance directly, then all the organs of the financial sector will work in a more coordinated manner," said Ravi Kastia, managing director and CEO, Essel Mining.
The decision to shuffle the key portfolios of finance and home comes after the government was severely criticised for failing to tackle effectively the issue of terror attacks on the country. Last week, terrorists attacked key locations in Mumbai, including two prestigious luxury hotels -- Taj and Oberoi -- in the southern part of the city, killing nearly 200 people and injuring over 300 others.
Reacting to the news of P Chidambaram taking over as the home minister, Malvinder Mohan Singh, CEO and MD, Ranbaxy Laboratories, said, "It is the duty of all political parties and the industry to stand behind P Chidambaram, our new home minister. We must close ranks and present India as a monolith in its fight against terror."
"Chidambaram is a man of action and expectations are that he will do something for the people of the country. He will do whatever it takes to restore the confidence," said Kris Gopalakrishnan, CEO, Infosys. Rajeev Talwar, group executive director, DLF, said "Chidambaram is one of the senior most and competent ministers in the Cabinet. Because of the shift, the internal security of the country may improve."
However, a few others were sceptical about the Cabinet reshuffle and wanted quick decisions and policy measures to strengthen the country's security.
"The corporate world and citizens are looking at quick decisions and not a change of portfolios. We are looking at people in power to do something good for the country and for the people," said Niranjan Hiranandani, managing director, Hiranandani Constructions.