'Next govt's reforms should not be run by PMO alone'

'Next govt's reforms should not be run by PMO alone'

Amid the chest-thumping by Modi government on India's improved raking in the World Bank's ease of doing business indicators, former Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan on Wednesday suggested the new government post elections to focus less on World Bank raking, which is based on a few select indicators only on Delhi and Mumbai and do more on reforms to jump-start job creation.

"One focus of the next government must be to streamline government itself so that it is fit for the purpose intended. Instead of focusing on World Bank indicators of “Doing Business”, which are primarily based on a few selected indicators in Delhi and Mumbai, we must lighten the actual compliance burden for business, while ensuring development is sustainable," Rajan said in a write-up published in 'Times of India'.

In a hard-hitting remark amid the poll campaign increasingly concentrating on national security, Rajan said there was no immediate national security emergency in the country and that India's national security depended primarily on an economy that created jobs.

"If we do not have strong job-creating economic growth in coming years, we will suffer on multiple fronts. We will not have the resources to upgrade our military’s equipment. We will not have the economic clout that will persuade other nations to arrest our terrorists and extradite those who flee our laws. And we will have rising levels of internal political unrest as our unemployed youths start venting their frustration. One cannot have meaningful national security without strong job-creating economic growth," he said. 

Rajan's caution comes close on the heels of 108 academicians slamming the Modi government over suppression of unfavourable unemployment data. The government has yet not released the jobs data, which it had promised to by end March. However, a leaked official jobs data in January this year had put India's unemployment rate at a 45-year high of 6.1%.

Rajan said job creating sectors require new generation of reforms since the old ones have run out of steam. He said sectors like construction, which create maximum jobs, have been held back due to the cumbersome process of land acquisition and limited access of credit.

"The next government will have to learn from the best practices in the states on how to acquire land in a transparent, fair and speedy way and convert that learning into legislation," Rajan, who is open to serving the government again, if he is given a role, said in his write-up.

"A new government must learn from the past. Any genuine reform programme will be too vast and requires too much from the states to be run entirely from the Prime Minister's office," he said adding a collegial empowered cabinet will be more likely to push a broad range of reforms.