Favours gradual entry of FDI in retail

Our Bureau

Kolkata, July 20

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has suggested the setting up of a skills development bank based on the venture capital model to ensure that skills are bankable and institutional funding is made available for skills training. This would be imperative since CII was apprehensive of a shortage of appropriate skills not just in the IT sector but also in manufacturing.

Speaking to newspersons here after members of CII discussed key premises and limiting factors aimed at achieving an industrial growth of 12 per cent, Mr R. Seshasayee, President, CII, said that for manufacturing to achieve a growth of 12 per cent, it would be imperative to ensure that services and agriculture grow at 12 per cent and 4 per cent-plus, respectively.

The proposed roadmap aimed at facilitating a 12 per cent growth in industry has been submitted to the Union Ministry of Finance.

Limiting factors

According to him, several factors were likely to emerge as limiting factors impacting the targeted 12 per cent growth in industry. In this regard, he suggested the deregulation of the energy and mining sectors, reform of labour laws to permit use of contract labour, especially for core seasonal activities, deregulation of the SSI sector in a phased manner and public investments in infrastructure, including logistics infrastructure.

Mr Seshasayee suggested a rationalisation of the indirect tax structure to a value-added GST of 15 per cent. He also pitched for a supportive policy for the food sector and called for a deregulation of organised retail where FDI could be allowed in a "phased manner".

Policy on minerals

On the issue of the need for a national policy on minerals, he said CII recognised that some minerals were critical to States that could use them as a "commercial lever". More deliberation was needed on whether the use of such minerals should be confined to the States that own them or for the nation as a whole.

Major issue

Stating that land acquisition for industrial purposes was a major national issue, he said in this regard that there was a need to balance the needs of industry and the farming community.

Earlier, Mr Seshasayee met the West Bengal Chief Minister, Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, and discussed issues pertaining to investments in the State's infrastructure, heavy industry and agro-processing sectors, among others. CII has agreed to work with the State Government on areas such as skills development and channelising FDI for upgradation of technology in select areas, he said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 21, 2006)
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