Monday, June 26, 2017

Better for govt to spend on health, education than on Air India: Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant

The government has taken some bold, positive and progressive measures that have attracted foreign direct investment (FDI) as well as global companies to conduct business in India, says Amitabh Kant, CEO of The National Institution for Transforming India, popularly known as Niti Aayog. In an interview to Forbes India, the 61-year-old talks about issues such as demonetisation, farm loan waivers and Niti Aayog’s recommendation to consider the strategic disinvestment of Air India. Edited excerpts:

What do you think are some of the significant achievements of the government in the last three years?

Firstly, the attempt at [implementing] the Goods and Services Tax, a Bankruptcy Law and a National Company Law Tribunal, [and the] scrapping of almost 1,200 laws are major steps forward. Reducing the number of forms for import and export, the fact that we can register a company in a day, and the competitive ranking of states on the ease of doing business are some of the pathbreaking work that the government has done.

Secondly, there has been an attempt to attract the best global companies to India. We have seen our FDI grow at about 61 percent in the last three years at a time when FDI across the globe has fallen by 16 percent. We have had some outstanding companies come to India and that, over a period of time, should make a huge amount of difference.

Third, there has been a whole shift from input and output to outcome monitoring. And we, at Niti Aayog, do an outcome-based presentation to the prime minister across sectors such as infrastructure, health care and education. Outcome targets have been spelt out and there has been an outcome budget that was tabled in Parliament along with the main budget. We believe the focus on outcomes will yield a lot of results over a period of time.

Fourthly, there is a huge thrust to make India more innovative and dynamic by creating the right ecosystem for startups, and with the right action plan that is benchmarked against the best in the world. We have an Atal Tinkering Lab that is supporting tinkering labs in schools and supporting incubators.

Then, the focus on creating good infrastructure on ground is giving a push to the country. We have seen growth in the number of roads being constructed. We have also seen a big rise in railway projects being executed. We have laid emphasis on improving the health of discoms [electricity distribution companies], which is critical for India.
26/06/17  Paramita Chatterjee/Forbes India/moneycontrol