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100 day dos

More for sentiment than outcome, what the new government does in the first few weeks will be critical. Business Today spoke to a few experts to find out what these initiatives should be.

Shalini S. Dagar        Print Edition: May 31, 2009

What is it about 100 days that excites the imagination of everyone?

Last few weeks “the first 100 days” were clearly in news. First, it was President Obama completing those many days in office without discrediting the hype that preceded him to the Oval office. Next, our own Prime Minister promised panacea for economic woes in a similar span of time—another “first 100 days” for him after five years at the helm of the country.

While there is nothing sacrosanct about the first 100 days, it is a good benchmark to get some decent declarations of the intent of the new government. Yet, realistically speaking, what can the new government deliver in the first 100 days? Lots, say economists and industry experts.

So, what are the expectations of the agenda that the new government should run with? No surprises there. It is a fairly well-known list, but prominent among them are: fix the constraints hampering the agriculture sector, set the land acquisition policies right, invest in infrastructure—both physical and social, including education and healthcare—and formulate a governance agenda.

In the next few weeks as the election dust settles down, most policy watchers would keenly be awaiting two major events—the Cabinet appointments and the Union Budget, which would put up the signposts of what can be expected over the following months as far as economic policy is concerned.

Says Subir Gokarn, Chief Economist, Standard & Poor’s Asia-Pacific: “The first indications of the nature of the new government would come from who gets which ministry. If the appointments are botched up, then it can undermine confidence.” That apart, agriculture sector is top of the mind and that includes issues related to irrigation and ground water conservation. The second Green Revolution is a term that pops up quite regularly. Investment in infrastructure including public housing would naturally draw whoops of joy from corporate India as would any measures to simplify land-related laws.

Ashok Gulati | Agriculture
Director, Asia, IFPRI

  • Creation of one common agriculture market for India
  • Raising funds for irrigation and R&D in agriculture
  • Encouragement to corporate sector in seed technology, logistics
  • Liberalisation of land lease market
  • Allow FDI in retail chains

Rajiv Kumar | Economy
Director & Chief Executive, ICRIER

  • A rigorous evaluation of Bharat Nirman and new time table for next five years
  • Push for a white paper on agriculture ushering in the second Green Revolution
  • A white paper on land acquisition; review of land ceiling laws
  • Implementation of a policy for groundwater conservation
  • Clear plan of action for housing at the district or city level

Subir Gokarn
Subir Gokarn
Subir Gokarn | Economy
Chief Economist, Standard & Poor’s Asia-Pacific

  • Restoration of confidence in the government’s abilities and intent by assigning key ministries to competent and credible people
  • In the Budget, making a firm commitment to rein in the fiscal deficit
  • Announcement of concrete steps for funding infrastructure projects
  • Statement of intent regarding sectors such as power, roads, and education
  • Roadmap for implementation of Goods and Services Tax and banking sector consolidation

S. Mahendra Dev
S. Mahendra Dev
S. Mahendra Dev | Agriculture
Chairman, Commission of Agricultural Costs and Prices

Reduction in cost of credit

  • Greater investment in infrastructure, which can provide a fillip to demand for goods and services
  • Identify the high employment generating industries and initiate specific schemes for such sectors
  • Increased flow of credit to micro-enterprises in the unorganised sector, which account for roughly 32 per cent of the GDP but only 2.5 per cent of formal credit
  • A comprehensive push for the agriculture sector, which has been the bulwark of demand in the past few quarters

Vinayak Chatterjee | Infrastructure
Chairman, Feedback Ventures

  • A domestic economic zone policy for urban regeneration
  • Select 20 cross-sectoral projects of national importance and commit on-time, on-cost delivery
  • Creation of Central and State-level Land Bank Corporations for scientific management of land for economic development, including implementation of model relief & rehabilitation packages
  • PPP in Rural Infra under Annuity Scheme for Irrigation, Roads, Mandis, Cold Storage, Agro Parks
  • Mass Transit Systems in top 20 cities

Amit Mitra
Amit Mitra
Amit Mitra | INDUSTRY
Secretary General, FICCI

  • Provide a fillip to the manufacturing sector by reducing taxes and announcing a manufacturing policy
  • Announcement of a second Green Revolution; encouragement to banks to invest in cold chains
  • Pass pending bills related to pensions, banking and insurance sectors
  • Initiate disinvestment (not privatisation) to bridge fiscal deficit
  • Make a concrete statement regarding the governance agenda

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