Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Wednesday, Mar 20, 2002
Industry & Economy
CII seeks steps to speed up reforms
KOCHI, March 19
THE Confederation of Indian Industry, Southern Region, has called for rapid and swift action, including legislative amendments, for accelerating second-generation reforms in Kerala.
The various reforms announced in the State Budget, such as those concerning power sector and labour law, and the implementation of e-governance is imperative given the modern-day competitive economics among the different States and also to channelise reform-based Central grants announced in the Union Budget.
All parties cutting across political lines must realise this imperative need and lend constructive support to the State Government, CII said.
There is a need for broad consensus in the State on the need for reforms at the State-level to accelerate growth.
Reforms across a wide spectrum of Government activity would provide the citizens with a better opportunity to participate productively in the economy, it added.
CII also lauded the proposal in the State Budget to bring a Fiscal Accountability Bill as a bold step.
The organisation said that the State-level reform process should focus on three major areas - fiscal and public expenditure reforms, administrative reforms and private sector participation.
Fiscal and public expenditure reforms should aim at a multi-year framework for fiscal adjustment with the objective of restoring the State's financial health, creating additional fiscal space for high-priority expenditure and promoting more efficient and transparent management of the Government's financial resources.
The administrative reforms should focus on civil services, freedom of information, anti-corruption initiatives, decentralisation and e-governance.
According to CII, private sector participation should focus on improving the business environment through de-regulation, privatisation of State PSUs, and private participation in infrastructure projects such as power, roads, ports, health sanitation, etc.
The objective should be to improve the efficiency and transparency of the Government as it conducts business and delivers services, restructure expenditure to meet development priorities, and achieve fiscal balances and reduce burden of public debt.
Recently, World Bank had approved a total of $350 million to support economic reforms in Andhra Pradesh ($250 million) and Karnataka ($100 million).
"Kerala must realise that the technical and financial assistance from international financial institutions was not abhorrent to democratic principles and was successfully followed in neighbouring States."
The vision enshrined in the Budget speech and the recent policy initiatives such as labour, IT and industrial policies need effective implementation through political consensus and support from the bureaucracy.
CII is also of the view that the reform process initiated by the State Government was a step in the right direction. A new work culture coupled with the acceleration of the reform process alone would obliterate the perception of poor investment climate in the State, it added.
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