Speed up government projects to thwart slowdown: Industry

November 10th, 2008 - 7:55 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 10 (IANS) Industry lobby Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has urged the government to set up a monitoring and implementation agency comprising a few top government officials and private sector managers to speed up public sector infrastructure projects in a bid to confront the current economic slowdown.”We have asked the government to set up a monitoring and implementing agency to identify 20 top public sector infrastructure projects and speed up their implementation to beat the current economic slowdown,” Vinayak Chatterjee, chairman of Feedback Ventures (P) Ltd. and chairman of CII’s infrastructure council, said at a panel discussion here Monday.

Panelists at the discussion on Demystifying the Current Economic Scenario agreed that the best way to counter the present economic slowdown was to speed up public sector infrastructure projects, as public expenditure was the biggest driver of the economy.

“The slowdown has brought back sanity in business and industry after two or three years of maddening growth,” said Richard Rekhy, chief operating officer of global consulting firm KPMG and chairman of CII’s northern region sub-committee on economic affairs.

“This is the time to tighten belts and achieve operational excellence,” he said, adding: “It is a time when Indian companies can really emerge as global giants by grabbing the opportunities thrown up by the weaknesses of American and European firms.”

“Nobody knew that the economic scenario will change so quickly and a downturn will be upon us so fast,” said Raman Saluja, joint managing director of Oriental Engg. Works and chairman of CII’s Haryana State Council.

“Liquidity is the main problem as foreign funds have completely dried up,” said Bidisha Ganguly, CII’s consultant on economic policy and financial sector, to explain the current situation.

“All other fundamentals are sound in India except that capital from abroad is not flowing in and foreign portfolio investors too are taking away money,” she said.

To counter this situation, the best way out was Keynesian public expenditure on infrastructure projects so that demand picks up for various industries and the slowdown can be tackled, the panelists agreed.

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