Union Budget: Modi lends ear to India Inc

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters file photo

In a first, the Union Budget preparation this year is getting inputs from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been having a closed-door interaction with top industry leaders and entrepreneurs on how India’s economic slump can be reversed.

Modi has held a few rounds of parleys so far and has planned a couple more in the coming week with India Inc. The PM has asked industry leaders to give their pointed suggestions on the sectors that can be improved in the run-up to the February 1 Budget, to make India a $5 trillion economy.

“No praise and no fear of talking with the PM directly” has been Modi’s mantra in holding the meeting with industry honchos in which other ministers and officials have a very limited presence.

This is the first meeting of the Prime Minister with investors from each sector separately, and it comes in the wake of the Centre last week unveiling a huge Rs 102-lakh crore plan for infrastructure investment-led growth for India in the next four years, in which nearly a fourth of financial contribution is expected from the private sector.

His personal meeting assumes significance as a hefty corporate tax cut to perk up business sentiment has met with little success. The private sector has not been forthcoming due to the uncertain business environment and the layers of regulatory hurdles.

Last week, most of the industry leaders suggested Modi to carry out urgent regulatory, logistics and financial sector reforms to boost private investment.

Modi has been meeting entrepreneurs from MSME, finance, FMCG and retail sectors too to get first-hand information of their woes.

“Their suggestions will be thoroughly weighed and incorporated in the Union Budget, too,” sources said, adding the main aim is to make India a $5 trillion economy by 2024-25.

Lead bankers have also been present to give an off-hand solution to financial obstacles.

Former finance secretary, who is now a non-excutive chairman of Bank of Baroda, Rajnish Kumar, Chairman, State Bank of India; Uday Kotak, CEO, Kotak Mahindra Bank; Aditya Puri, managing director, HDFC Bank; IT industry veteran TV Mohandas Pai; CP Gurnani, CEO, Tech Mahindra; and Rajesh Gopinath, Tata Consultancy Services chief executive have attended the meeting so far.

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