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Indian industry does not have level playing field, says ICL's N Srinivasan Srinivasan also told entrepreneurs that there was no room for 'complacency' BS Reporter  |  Chennai September 30, 2016 Last Updated at 15:48 IST

The Indian industry is forced to run a race with legs and arms tied behind, said N Srinivasan, vice-chairman and managing director of India Cements Ltd.

Speaking at the Madras Chamber of Commerce & Industry's Chamber Day function at Chennai on Thursday evening, he said that after years of buoyancy, the Indian economy had languished during the last stages of Congress-led UPA regime and it has not picked up as expected in the current NDA regime.

On the Make in India policy, he said, "It is easy to say you must be cost competitive, but do we have a level plying field on the taxes front," said Srinivasan, who urged for a level playing field for India Inc to compete with foreign multinationals.

He said that, today, the Indian industry is facing a huge burden of indirect taxes, high cost of money and interest cost at around 12 per cent, free imports without any duty, lower import duty on raw materials than finished product etc.

There are fresh challenges. The licensing committee has gone, but the environment committee has come. If one wants to set up a project, it takes two or three years. They have to get environmental clearances; they have to reckon with huge cost of land, said Srinivasan.

"Today, it is so difficult to run an industry when the doors are open to anyone wanting to set up a project. Indian industry is forced to run a race with its legs and arms tied behind," said Srinivasan.

On the growth of the Indian economy post liberalisation (since 1991), he said that Indian corporates had free access to capital, technology and India was flooded with imports and foreign investment.

The IT industry grew in tandem and supported imports. Along with foreign institutional investor, foreign direct investment and foreign investments in various shapes and forms had helped the country to build forex of $350 Billion.

He said that the domestic market has survived despite the global economic and European Union crisis and high oil prices. This, along with a domestic economy with huge consumption and without much dependency on the external markets, helped the country to stand firm despite many external crises, collapse of economies and currencies.

In a word of advise to entrepreneurs, Srinivasan said, there is "no room for complacency. Times are changing. Be vigilant. Innovations are taking place. It is a border-less world. You will become irrelevant without even knowing...".

"The resilience and fighting spirit of the Indian entrepreneur is something to be seen to believe. Themanufacturing sector must be saluted for operating in difficult times," said Srinivasan.
‘Industry needs level playing field against global cos’ – BL – 30th Sep’16 Updated: September 29, 2016 21:50 IST | Our Bureau
Ram Venkataramani, President, MCCI ; N Srinivasan, Vice-Chairman and MD, India Cements, and Jan Luykx, Belgium’s Ambassador in India, at the Chamber Day of MCCI, in Chennai on Thursday | Bijoy Ghosh

Indian industry needs a level playing to compete with global players as foreign investments flood the market, said N Srinivasan, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of India Cements.

Though there have been many success stories in the industrial sector post-libersalisation, the Indian industry, particularly the manufacturing sector, faces challenges of high interest cost, huge indirect tax and exorbitant land prices.

The domestic market has survived the global economic crisis, EU crisis and high oil prices. But, the domestic challenges including delays in environment clearances are hindering the growth of manufacturing sector. “We can be more-competitive if these fresh challenges are addressed,” observed Srinivasan, former president of the Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), while addressing MCCI’s Chamber Day celebrations here on Thursday.

Elaborating on the opportunities, he urged Indian entrepreneurs to “look over your shoulders and stay relevant.”

Earlier, Ambassador of Belgium in India, Jan Luykx, who is leading a delegation to meet State government authorities and business community here, said both India and Belgium have huge scope to grow the partnership in future. “Doors are open for Indian business community to do more business with our people,” he added.

Ram Venkataramani, President, MCCI, highlighted the recent initiatives of the chamber, including the one on start-up businesses in the non-IT sector, and the upcoming plans relating to skilled manpower.
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