Rahul reaches out to India Inc

 Reaching out to India Inc in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday sought to assure them that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government will bring in various reforms to promote industrial growth, including a mechanism for speedy clearance of industrial projects.

He blamed “arbitrary powers” at various levels of the system for delay in industrial clearances, saying the Centre was considering creating a special purpose vehicle which will secure all clearances required for a natural resource investment before auctioning projects to private players.

“I am in complete agreement with the need for the regulatory system to be rapidly and radically modernized. There are no excuses for the length of time required to clear some of these projects. We are a fast moving economy. We cannot allow you to be held back by slow decision making. Accountability has to be clear, fixed and time bound,” Gandhi said.

He was addressing the concluding session of an annual general meeting of the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industries (Ficci).

“The biggest problem is absolute arbitrary powers at all levels of the system. This is what we face. The environment minister or the chief minister can take any decision he wants, can do anything they want. We have to get rid of such things,” the Congress vice-president said.

Gandhi noted that there was “excessive administrative and judicial discretion” on the issues of environment clearance, suggesting that the government could become “more aggressive” in the matter.

“The loopholes are so big you can drive a truck through some of them! Environmental and social damage must be avoided, but decisions must also be transparent, timely and fair,” he added.

At a time when the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is reported to be drawing huge support from private sector players, Gandhi described the captains of the industries as “stakeholders of the Congress” and said it was “imperative” for the party to pay heed to their voices and concerns.
He called corruption the “biggest issue” in the country which “bleeds people dry” and added that the UPA government created a framework to fight corruption by ensuring the passage of Lokpal Bill during the just-concluded winter session of Parliament.
“Corruption is an unacceptable burden on the people of our nation. We must fight corruption with all our strength and determination,” he said.

The Congress was pushing for six more bills to fight corruption, including one to protect and empower honest officers as well as citizen’s right to timely delivery of goods and government services.

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