Corporate America has urged India's Finance Minister to issue a bold Union Budget that would unleash the next generation of economic reforms and help the country realise its full growth potential.
In a 22-page memorandum submitted to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the US India Business Council (USIBC) sought reforms in key areas including opening up the multi-brand retail sector to reduce food inflation.
Among its wish list is enhancing technology transfer by increasing FDI caps in defence; and expanding the social safety net through long-term investment in the pension and insurance sectors by passing long-awaited legislations.
These will not only demonstrate India's resolve to maintain robust growth for its 1.2 billion citizens, but will also send a strong signal to international investors that India is open for business, USIBC president Ron Somers said.
"Now that the regional elections of March are behind us, it is essential for the Government of India to press forward with bold economic reforms that will boost growth, tame inflation, reduce government debt as a percentage of GDP, and make it easier for companies to conduct business, leading to greater job creation. "Our member companies need to see in the Budget that India's reform process is moving forward - boldly," Somers said in a statement.
To underscore this sense of urgency, USIBC chairman Harold "Terry" McGraw III will be leading the largest-ever USIBC Board-level Executive Mission to India, arriving in India on March 18, just hours after the Finance Minister presents the 2012-2013 India Budget to Parliament.
McGraw is chairman, president, and CEO of The McGraw-Hill Companies.
McGraw-Hill, which owns Standard & Poors, has more than 6,000 employees in India and is the parent company of Crisil.
McGraw also serves as a member of the US-India CEO Forum.
He will lead the delegation to New Delhi and then to Mumbai, where USIBC leadership will listen to members and partners, emphasising that business must lead the way in the US-India commercial relationship, especially as the United States gears-up for its Presidential elections in November and as India looks to its national polls in 2014.
"Business leadership supports a robust commercial agenda that enables the two-way promise of US-India investment to flourish in both countries. We hope the coming 2012-2013 India Budget will create a welcoming environment that nurtures this promise," said Somers.
Formed in 1975, at the request of the two governments to advance two-way trade and deepen commercial ties, USIBC today is the premier business advocacy association comprised of nearly 400 of America's and India's top companies dedicated to enhancing the US-India commercial relationship.