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If I Were FM | Shekhar Ramamurthy

In run-up to the Union Budget, Shekhar Ramamurthy shares his expectations for the alcohol industry
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First Published: Mon, Feb 11 2013. 08 31 AM IST
Shekhar Ramamurthy, joint president, United Breweries Ltd.
Shekhar Ramamurthy, joint president, United Breweries Ltd.
Updated: Thu, Feb 14 2013. 01 13 PM IST
Shekhar Ramamurthy, joint president, United Breweries Ltd, a beer maker
Name the areas you would have looked at, or specific things you would have done, if you were the finance minister?
The FM needs to put in place policies that will stimulate growth of the economy. One of the key aspects of our country that is hindering growth is the woeful state of our physical infrastructure. Significant investments need to go into building roads as well as electricity generation. In the 21st century, India that takes pride as the centre of global IT (information technology) development, cannot provide power to either industries or households.
The FM also needs to create a stable investment environment to be able to attract foreign investment. Foreign direct investment (FDI)) is good for the country and needs to be attracted into areas where we as a country have not been able to develop. However, investors need a progressive and stable investment climate.
What are the two or three things the finance minister should do to make growth more sustainable?
Sustainability of growth is obviously critical. We have a responsibility to continue lifting vast numbers of our population out of poverty. Apart from what I have stated above, in terms of investment in infrastructure, we as country need to have much higher focus and investment in improving our agricultural productivity. The large majority of India is still rural, hence investments in farm productivity, irrigation, quality of seeds etc is critical for the long term development of the country.
Also, with a large and growing young population, investments and policies that will generate greater employment are very important.
I also believe that much greater focus on quality of primary education and accessibility of it to every child in the country is vital for sustainable economic growth.
What areas in your sector do you think need to be addressed in this budget?
The alcoholic beverage industry is not significantly impacted by the Union budget, since we come under the purview of state governments. However the goods and services tax (GST), which will dramatically change and improve the efficiency of the tax collection system, in its current state seeks to exclude alcohol from its ambit. We would strongly urge the FM to include the alcohol industry within the provisions of the GST regime. Its exclusion will create distortions in the system, since our input materials will be under GST whilst our output would be out of it. Moreover, the states will continue to have their right to collect excise duties and other state level taxes on alcohol products.
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First Published: Mon, Feb 11 2013. 08 31 AM IST
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