Edward E. Nusbaum, the Chief Executive Officer of Grant Thornton International, the world's sixth largest audit accountancy and consulting firm, is a frequent visitor to India. On January 24, during his most recent visit, he spoke to Suman Layak about the global economy and India's forthcoming union budget. Excerpts.
What would you like the finance minister to do in this year's union budget to get India back on the growth path?
The government should be continuously creating more jobs. This will have newer people moving into the middle class and will support consumer spending. We did a recent survey that showed India is ranked high on education and growth but low on regulation and financing.
I would ask for three things. Firstly, limit corruption and regulate red tape. Secondly, we are hearing a lot of concerns on problems in finding finance. So, I would want the minister to make it easier to obtain financing. And third, it is something that you need to do all the time: continue to develop infrastructure.
There is an ongoing tussle between the finance ministry and the Reserve Bank of India. Our central bank has been ignoring broad hints by the ministry for a rate cut (before January 29)...
There is no doubt that a lower rate will stimulate the economy. However, having an independent central bank is also very important.
How do you think the global economy is shaping up with the US avoiding the fiscal cliff but Europe still not out of the woods?
Globally, optimism is down today compared to mid-June 2012. There are some worries in the Eurozone, but we also see continued optimism in India. Japan is trying to stimulate growth in their economy. Ireland is offering a lower tax base, and we are running an Ireland desk in India with a senior person from Ireland based in Delhi to help companies looking to set up a base there to save on taxes. Similarly, we are running Japanese desks in many other markets.
How is Grant Thornton doing in the audit-accountancy sweepstakes?
Well, GTI is the number five firm in many important markets such as the US, UK, Canada and Australia. Globally, however, we are the sixth largest. However, I do not think size is so important; what is important is providing high quality, seamless services to our clients.