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Doing biz: India aims high but CEOs lament current state

The Economist India Summit was marked by attendants and speakers expressing confidence in the prospects of the Indian economy while some executives lamented the current state of affairs when it came to doing business.

The News International Team

India’s rank in the World Bank’s ease-of-doing-business study will improve from 134 in 2014 to under 50, Amitabh Kant, secretary of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, said today.

He was speaking at the closing remarks of the Economist India Summit, standing in for commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

The DIPP secretary listed a host of measures the government had undertaken to ease the process of doing business such as shifting all applications for industrial licences online, etc.

But the day before was marked by attendants and speakers expressing confidence in the prospects of the Indian economy while some executives lamented the current state of affairs when it came to doing business.

At a session – “What Business Needs: Foreign Companies Speak” — a host of executives from multinationals highlighted the struggles of doing business in the country.

Vodafone India MD and CEO Marten Pieters said the government had failed to take care of the telecom industry by not facilitating the supply of adequate spectrum and by believing that competition would take care of the sector.

Citing an instance of slow-decision making, he said his company had applied for permission for a fund-raising drive in October last year, which was not yet received.

While BP India CEO Sashi Mukundan criticized the delay in implementation of the gas price hike from the current price of USD 4.2 per unit, which gas block operators in the country say will allow them to recover their investments.

BP is a partner in KG D6 field off the Andhra Pradesh coast and Mukundan the company intended to make an additional investment that would lift gas output but was awaiting clarity on the gas price decision.

“So is that frustration, yes because it was decided last June 2013,” he said, referring to the erstwhile UPA government’s decision to increase the price of gas, but which was put in abeyance before the elections, after which the incumbent NDA government has decided to review it and come out with a fresh decision.

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