NEW DELHI: India’s economy will only be able to maintain its impressive growth if its bureaucracy ceases to be “an expert in setting up roadblocks”, US Secretary of State John Kerry said today at IIT-Delhi.
Mr Kerry said red tape and a lack of transparency continued to deter entrepreneurs and foreign investors even though India is now the world’s fastest-growing major economy.
“Even though we are witnessing impressive gains in India’s economic growth, there is still a real question as to whether we are doing so quickly enough,” he said.
For India to create jobs for the 13 million people who enter the labour market every year, Mr Kerry said in a speech at the engineering college. He was an hour late because of the rain that stormed down on the capital this morning. “Don’t know how you all got here. You must’ve needed boats to get here,” he joked.
“Your entrepreneurs… urgently need the freedom to pursue new ideas, the ability to start up new businesses without a lot of red tape, and access to infrastructure that makes it easier to translate fresh concepts into successful companies,” Mr Kerry said on campus. “You have to have sensible regulations and your bureaucracy needs to be streamlined and effective — a partner in making decisions, not an expert in setting up roadblocks.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to rid India of its reputation as one of the world’s hardest places to do business. But the country is still ranked 130th in a global league table compiled by the World Bank for ease of doing business.
Among the biggest gripes of foreign companies is excessive bureaucracy, corruption and an onerous tax regime which can leave firms fighting for years in the courts to avoid crippling bills.