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. The manufacturing sector must be saluted for operating in difficult times," said Srinivasan.