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Ease of doing business in India remains a major concern: Airtels Sunil Mittal
October, 30th 2017

Sunil Mittal, chairman of Bharti Airtel Ltd, has said ease of doing business still remains a “major concern” and urged the government to do more.

“The ease of doing business remains a major concern. I know government is very focused on this, the PM wants our ranking to go up. You come out with fantastic policies,” Mittal said.

Describing how he was stunned to get approvals for a merger in Ghana in flat three days despite the holding companies were based in The Netherlands, Mittal rued that it still takes much longer for such processes in our country. “We can’t get to three days. But can we get to 30, may be 60 days? We really need such a framework,” Mittal told a panel discussion where Union minister Arun Jaitley, who handles the finance and corporate affairs portfolios, was the chief guest at an ET awards function in Mumbai on Saturday night.

He cited the case of the merger of a 100% subsidiary with the parent, saying it takes up to five months to get the requisite approvals in India. Mittal said the government has de-clogged the courts to have the National Company Law Tribunals (NCLT), a special forum for clearing mergers and acquisitions, but termed the progress on this as “slow” as they are taking “time to stabilize”.

As a solution, he suggested having an inter-ministerial panel or a committee that may look into the industry’s suggestions and implement them. “My appeal to the government is to create an inter- ministerial framework, a committee may be, where we can present with logic as to what needs to be changed and you will either reject the logic or buy it. Then government must take a position as quickly as possible,” he said.

It can be noted that the country has moved up marginally to 130 rank in ease of doing business among 190 countries evaluated by the World Bank.

The government has been saying that it wants to break into the top-100 soon and improve the ranking further. Commending the government for the Rs2.11 lakh crore bank recapitalization plan announced last week, Mittal said the move may help banks, which are sitting on excess liquidity right now due to their “reluctance” to lend because of high bad loans.

He said his company will be doubling investments in the current fiscal, which is over and above the doubled-up investments of the previous year, hinting that it may invest up to Rs75,000 crore in a three year-period. “We doubled our investment this year to Rs20-22,000 core, on top of having doubled capex last year. Over the next three years, our total investment would be around Rs75,000 crore,” Mittal said.

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