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Coalition Govt Capable Of Doing The Right Things: Naushad Forbes

Naushad Forbes, Co-chairman, Forbes Marshall on politics and policies

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On the upcoming general elections
The campaign on both sides seems to be very negative. The focus should be on issues related to the economy. I think the more we can bring things back to the economy the better. Even if the parties stay away from talking about the economy this time, I think certainly by the next election, it will be economy first.

On concerns and expectations

When this government came into office, it courageously started talking about labour reforms. As its strength in the Rajya Sabha progressively grew, the talk about labour reforms vanished. That is not good. It is an issue that generates debate. A more flexible labour market will create millions of good jobs. That is the kind of issue that we should be debating and discussing in the election.

On whether coalition governments can provide stability
Our experience over the last 28 years gives us conviction that they can. NDA government, by definition, is a coalition government. If you look at the previous NDA government between 1998 and 2004, it was a coalition government. From 1991 to 1996, the government was not only a coalition one, it was also a minority government. That is when we saw the biggest reforms in India. These reforms took India forward more in those five years than what we have seen in our entire history. The coalition government is capable of doing the right things.

On corporate India’s concerns in these elections
The key is the reliance on the private sector as the engine for growth. Moreover, competitive giveaways are damaging for the economy. The focus needs to shift more to how to create wealth.

On whether India is witnessing an era of jobless growth
Our unemployment data in the country is terrible. There is no accurate data that says that jobs are either being created or are being destroyed. We have created many jobs. The problem is with the quality of jobs. So, the question should be: Are we creating enough high-quality jobs?

On whether data is being fudged in the Modi regime
Use the data of the government of the day at the time it was there. In other words, I will use the UPA data for the period that it was in office and I would use the NDA data for the period it has been in office.

On whether the economy is doing well
The macroeconomic stability seems okay. Oil prices have dropped again in the last year or so, which is very good for the Indian economy. So, some of macroeconomic indicators seem reasonable and even the current giveaways will add about half a per cent to the budget deficit, which is problematic but not a huge problem. Foreign investment is still robust. The challenge now since 2012 is private sector investment. There, we are seeing no upturn.

On Modi versus Manmohan years
The economic management that we have seen under both Manmohan Singh and PM Modi has been reasonably sound. I dislike the social rhetoric of the Modi years but that is a personal preference. Could we do more in either? I am sure we could have  — whether it is on the labour reform side, whether it is on getting private sector investment booming by encouraging firms to invest, and so on.

On the highs and lows of Modi years
GST has been the high point. The NCLT process is now finally underway, again a good indication to me of moving in the right direction. The discussion around ‘ease of doing business’ and getting States to compete one with the other on improving the business climate is a worthy move.
Demonetisation was damaging to the economy. And the social rhetoric has been very unfortunate for the country of our diversity (in Modi years).

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