Ease of doing business critical for investment: IACC chief
By Aparajita Gupta
New Delhi, June 21 (IANS) A lot of positive vibes were generated on both sides following US President Barack Obama’s visit in January, but the Indian government needs to expedite ease of doing business to strike the right investment chord, Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (IACC) president Asoke K. Laha feels.
“The vibes that (Indian Prime Minister Narendra) Modi and Obama shared had helped a lot in generating trust among the business community in the US. But ease of doing business is the most important and the critical thing that the Modi government should address to attract investment, Laha told IANS in an interview during a visit here.
Laha, who went to the US in the 1970s, has his own comprehensive software consultancy based out of San Jose, California, with operations in India as well.
Terming the Modi-Obama vibes as “just the beginning”, he said: “If I am an American and I see that my president has good relations with the prime minister of another country then that makes me feel comfortable.”
“That feeling has to be inculcated among US investors that their money is in a secure place. Bureaucratic nuances during the setting up of a business has to be curtailed and tax laws need to be predictable.”
He noted that Modi, during his US visit last September, had mentioned that the government is making efforts to improve India’s ranking from 134 in the ease of doing business index.
“US companies are eager to come to India. To get the growth momentum, the US companies need to look beyond the country. There they do not have enough skilled people and the cost of labour is also very high,” Laha said.
The IACC, which predominantly promotes small and medium entreprises (SME) in India, will be taking a 15-20 member business delegation to the US on July 5.
“These are mainly SME companies. The delegation will hold business-to-business (B2B) meetings with local business community and chambers of commerce in Houston, Atlanta and some other cities.”
IACC will also hold two conferences in India in September in Delhi and Mumbai on ‘How to increase India-US trade to $500 billion?’
The bilateral trade now stands at $100 billion.
Taking about the Make in India programme as envisaged by the present National Democratic Alliance government, he said: “It makes sense for India to become a manufacturing superpower. India can’t only be a trading country. It makes sense for India to be another global manufacturing hub like China. It has all the advantages. But to do that India needs automation and to provide that US technology is required.”
On the recent uproar over violations of H1B visa rules, Laha said: “There is no issue from the US government’s point of view. In the past, several companies have misused this visa to get cheap labour. But now the US government is clamping down on them.”