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Let's work together, Ficci to govt & Opposition
January, 17th 2012

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) will ask the ruling coalition and the opposition to build a broad consensus on economic reforms and rise above party politics while discussing development.

Ficcis call for unification comes as implementation of reforms such as foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail and Goods and Services Tax are stuck due to differences among political parties, and the Centre and states.

The industry body will, at the annual general meeting on Wednesday, try to emphasise the need for second generation reforms. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Commerce, Industry Minister Anand Sharma and leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley are scheduled to attend the meeting.
Ahead of the meeting, Rajiv Kumar, secretary general of Ficci, told Business Standard that the industry body will tell the leader of the opposition to contribute to the national agenda, rather than a partisan agenda. The chamber also wants to tell the ministers to work with the industry to tackle moderating economic growth.

In another move, Ficci will put forward a new theme Empowering India to brand the economy more effectively in the international market. We have tried to sell Incredible India for a long time now and we have succeeded in that. Now we have to sell a credible India that provides ease in doing business.

The World Banks Doing Business report brought out in 2011 put India at 134 among 183 countries in ease of doing business. The ranking has declined from 120 in 2008.

As GST continued to miss one deadline after another, Finance Minister Mukherjee had said earlier: If collectively all the chambers make an effort (in demanding GST), it is possible to build a broad consensus on the indirect tax reforms.

A constitution amendment Bill on GST roll-out is pending before the standing committee on finance. The Bill not only requires two-third majority in both the houses but also needs the approval from at least half of the states. The Bill is required as states cannot impose service tax and the Centre cannot levy tax on goods beyond the ambit of manufacturing. GST which will subsume excise duty, service tax at the Centres end and VAT and other small levies on the states front requires this enabling provision, besides GST bills from the union government and states.

The Cabinet decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail is also in the limbo because of the protests by some members of the ruling coalitions allies and the opposition. Though executive measures, the FDI decision was frozen as there was lack of consensus on the issue.

Ficci has been at the forefront in downgrading the GDP forecast. Ahead of all organisations, FICCI had said that the GDP growth for the financial year would rest between 6.6 per cent and 6.8 per cent, and that too with significant downside risks. The associations forecast for growth for the next fiscal had been at a modest 6.7 per cent. The economy grew by 8.5 per cent last fiscal and 7.3 per cent in the first half of this fiscal.

R V Kanoria of Kanoria Chemicals will take over as Ficci President from Harsh Mariwala of Marico Ltd.

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