Ratan Tata rattled by India's current image, scams, retrospective taxation

Last Updated: Sun, Dec 09, 2012 11:52 hrs

Ratan Tata, the outgoing Chairman of the Tata Group, has said he is "rattled" by India's current image, but does belief that the country's future will only get better as time passes.

Taking part in an interview with national news agency PTI, Tata, who steps down from his post on reaching the age of 75 on December 28, said: "Never before has India had that kind of image. India has been hurt by scams, court process and some of the retrospective taxation acts which have given a sense of uncertainty to investors in terms of the credibility of the government."

"You get FIPB (Foreign Investment Promotion Board) approval to invest in India and to own a company, you get a licence to operate and, then three years later the same government... Tells you that your licences are illegal and that you have lost everything. This leads to a great deal of uncertainty. Never before has India had that kind of image. So that really rattled me because then anything can happen," Tata said.

"India must give an irreversible commitment that law of the land has sanctity and the government approval cannot be taken lightly," he emphasised, adding "otherwise India would be taken lightly".

Tata, however, said that he was optimistic about the future of India as an economic power.

"There will have to be efforts made to reassure people that the laws that are in place, the legislation that is in place, is here to stay. If it is changed, it has to be changed in some rational way of announcing a change which is prospective and not retrospective," he said.

Describing FDI in multi-brand retail as a significant step, Tata said that it would help the consumer in terms of having an opportunity to choose, hopefully at lower cost.

He said: "If it doesn't do that then the model has failed."

He also described Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a leader of high integrity and an architect of the 1990 reforms.

He said: "My view is that the PM had to move. If he got attacked from all sides... You don't do anything after that. If you want him to do something and you attack him from all sides, then in all likelihood he would not not do anything."

Tata said the problem of crony capitalism can be done away with basically by the law being implemented in its spirit.

"If we had stronger legislation, with no exceptions based on who you are or whom you know, then I think crony capitalism would finally find its own limit," he said.

Asked if the problem was getting worse, Tata said, "Yes. It's just an observation, I have no facts or figures to prove it."

To a question on his statement that the fabric of Indian values and the ethics was slowly deteriorating, specially in the business community, he said, "I hold to that view."

On Tatas doing business without compromises, Tata said, "it is still possible and you still can grow. It is a great pride to me and happiness is that you can go home and sleep you didn't succumb."

"I think it (India) is a great country with great potential. Unfortunately, we bring about some of the things on ourselves. It is not because of the environment around us. Our environment is big enough and complex enough. So we can operate smoothly. We would really be an economic power to deal with, I think so," said Tata. (ANI)

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