Governance reform is No 1 priority: Modi to top American CEOs

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said governance reform is his number one priority, during a meeting with a group of top American CEOs with a collective net worth of US$ 4.5 trillion, PTI reports.

Indian PM Narendra Modi with some of the Fortune 500 CEOs at a special event in New York

Indian PM Narendra Modi with some of the Fortune 500 CEOs at a New York event

“Reform in governance is my No 1 priority. We are for simplified procedures, speedy decision making, transparency and accountability,” Modi told more than 40 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies over a dinner as he presented a page-long fact sheet of the steps taken by his government in the last one year.

Among the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies attending the event were Lockheed Martin Chairman and CEO Marillyn Hewson, Ford President and CEO Mark Fields, IBM Chairman Ginni Rometty, Pepsi Co Chief Indra Nooyi, and Dow Chemical Chairman Andrew Liveris. Some of the CEOs attending the dinner described it as  “report card,” adding that this reflected the great transparency of the Modi Government.

“Please continue to do more what you are doing. May be slightly faster,” External Affairs Minister spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

Briefing reporters after the day-long meetings, Indian Ambassador to the US Arun K Singh said the comments made by some of the CEOs pointed to a lot of progress made by India in the last one year, but it has been inaccurately assessed and reported.

During the meeting, the Prime Minister said the foreign direct investment (FDI) all over the world has fallen but in India it has increased by 40 per cent. “This reflects confidence in the Indian economy,” Modi said.

During the meeting, Swarup said the Prime Minister listened from each one of the CEOs present in the room on what their plans are for India and what are the problems they are facing and how that can be resolved.

“By and large, the mood was very upbeat. There is general consensus that the Prime Minister is effecting change in India. The only thing all the CEOs said is that ‘please make that change faster,'” the Indian diplomat said.

Modi told the CEOs that fundamentally he believes in deregulation, the government should allow the private sector to develop and that he is for predictable, transparent and accountable governance.

Most CEOs felt that this was a very good moment for India in the global context, Singh said.

“If you look at the global trends, this was the unique opportunity to move ahead, attract capital and find moments in terms of market access and ability to produce both for domestic and for exports,” he said.

“There was also a sense that the unique position of digital technology today and in the coming period provided a special opportunity for India with its strength in this sector,” Singh said.

The Indian talent, which is contributing in a major to the development of this technology in a global context, could provide a very special opportunity for India to leapfrog technology and to move ahead in terms of economic strategies, he said.

“There was support and appreciation expressed for the ‘Make in India’ program, the ‘Skills India’ program, the work related to smart cities and the focus on renewable energy. Some emphasis on the needs in the infrastructure sector and appreciation for the way in which the concept of smart cities has been approached,” Singh added.

During the meeting, Modi circulated a one-page fact sheet summarising the bold steps that the Indian government has taken for deregulation, reform and consistency in the tax administration.

“That note is based on hard facts, on what the government has actually done, what it has done for ease of doing business, where we all expect that when the next report comes, India should have jumped several places up,” Swarup said.

The fact sheet also lists efforts made by the government in increasing FDI, efforts towards making a bankruptcy code, he said.

“Change is afoot. Change is visible. That is why the CEOs were in such an upbeat mood,” the Indian diplomat asserted.



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