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ET CEO Roundtable: India’s top corporate leaders pitch for saving ‘national treasures’

Infosys Chairman Nandan Nilekani said that the next big step for the government to take is to revive credit to small businesses.

ET Bureau|
Updated: Sep 26, 2019, 04.59 PM IST
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ET CEO Roundtable: Sunil Mittal calls on govt to become big enabler, save 'national assets'
ET CEO Roundtable: Sunil Mittal calls on govt to become big enabler, save 'national assets'
NEW DELHI: India’s top corporate leaders made a strong pitch for saving ‘national treasures’ and resolving the credit and decision-making gridlocks, among other steps, in order to build on the government’s recent major reforms, especially corporate tax cuts, aimed at reviving a slowing economy.

“…the announcement of the deep (tax) cuts took the industry by great deal of surprise, on the pleasant side because usually governments do it in small measures…,” Sunil Mittal, Chairman of Bharti Enterprises, said at the ET CEO Roundtable on Wednesday on “Tackling the Slowdown”.

“A few other things need to be done, in my view. India is passing through a great deal of reset, whether its GST or whether it is going into digital mode of payments and currency… I would request the government to become the big enabler in the next 18-24 months and save some of the treasure and national assets of the country,” Mittal said, referring to the likes of Jet Airways and eight telecom companies going out of business.

Infosys Chairman Nandan Nilekani said that the next big step for the government to take is to revive credit to small businesses.

“Today only 8% of Indian small businesses get credit from the banking system. Due to combination of factors like public sector banks having high NPAs, NBFCs having asset liability mismatch, the whole thing is grid locked,” Nilekani said.

Other panelists included Uday Shankar, Chairman, Star & Disney India, Anu Aga, former chairperson, Thermax, Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder, Ola, Cyril Shroff, Managing Partner, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, and Kalpana Morparia, CEO, South & South East Asia, J.P.Morgan.

The panel discussion came a few days after the government slashed base corporate tax rate to 22% from 30% for domestic companies and proposed a 15% rate for new manufacturing units, offering a Rs 1.45 lakh crore fiscal boost as part of a series of measures to revive growth. This, after India’s economic growth had plunged to a 25-quarter low of 5% in April-June.

“Competitive tax rates are fundamental in increasing FDI (foreign direct investment). The (recent tax cuts) sends a signal that the government listened to feedback. Tax cuts help in a holistic economy policy,” said David Sproul, Global Deputy CEO of Deloitte.

“The initial feedback has been very positive and this makes it encouraging to invest in a market (like India),” Sproul added.

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