New Delhi, Oct 23:
Seeking protection from the Prime Minister, apex industry body ASSOCHAM has expressed apprehensions that more industry leaders may come under the scanner of the investigative agencies merely on the basis of inferences and perceptions of wrong-doings vitiating the investment climate .
In a letter to Dr Manmohan Singh, the chamber said while it appreciates clearing of the air on Hindalco, activism on the part of investigating agencies is harming the overall business climate and image of the well-respected industrialists is being sullied.
“The country needs your support for restoration of confidence and spirit of enterprise,” the ASSOCHAM letter to the Prime Minister said.
It said, “We are afraid, if this environment of distrust continues, the decision- making will get further hampered and all those big projects recently cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Investment will not take off , since they will be stuck again at the implementation stage because of demoralised bureaucracy and a shaken entrepreneur.”
The ASSOCHAM letter further said, an entrepreneur who is hungry for growth, as he should be, will surely need a hands-on relationship with the government so that all the hurdles and procedural delays do not cost him dearly.
“The job of the government is not only to regulate but also to facilitate enterprise, (But) as an industry chamber, we have no qualms in accepting that we have been INFLUENCING the government decisions right from the inception of ASSOCHAM in 1920 for the larger good of the industry and the country. Every citizen in a democracy has a right to influence the government decisions, but should it be perceived as a mala fide act of criminality”, the letter said.
It said in the midst of an environment of mistrust and unsubstantiated allegations of scams, the decision-makers in the government would prefer not to take decisions, lest they are hounded by investigative agencies even after their retirement. The situation would become even more precarious in an election year.
The ASSOCHAM said the public discourse in India should take a cue from countries like the US and European states where heads of governments – Presidents and the Prime Ministers never hesitate to advance interests of the corporations. They do it in good faith.
The letter said, ”We need to bring the same aggression and culture here. Not all acts of influencing should be treated as so-called crony capitalism. We find nothing wrong sir, if a chief minister of a state writes to the Prime Minister favouring a particular project.”
“We, in the ASSOCHAM, would seek your unstinted support for honest officials in the government machinery. Besides, your continuous and direct support is of utmost importance if the “animal spirit” has to be revived among the industry leaders, who would like to be respected in their own country and not be a subjects of media debates day in and day out based on mere suspicions and perceptions of wrong doings, just because a particular individual meets a secretary or a minister,” the letter said.