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Government should not give away too much in FTA with EU: Assocham

Cautioning that giving away too many concessions to the EU in the proposed FTA will hurt the domestic industry, newly-elected President of industry chamber Assocham, Rajkumar Dhoot said India should rather consider hiking import duties if needed to protect homegrown firms.

The government has to protect the domestic manufacturing industry to achieve a double-digit growth, and for that excise duties should not be increased at all, Dhoot told PTI.

"If you give unnecessary concessions to the EU, it will affect the domestic industry. The domestic industry has to be given protection," he said.

Dhoot, who is the Managing Director of Videocon Industries and also a Rajya Sabha member, said the high interests regime to contain inflation has hurt the domestic industry and the Reserve Bank of India should think of reducing the rates.

"We do not have a level-playing field (compared to foreign industries). We have huge interest rates. Besides, revenue income is also less in India. So, if there is a need, the government should consider increasing the customs duty," Dhoot said, adding excise duties should not be raised.

Domestic manufacturing industry, especially the automobile sector, has been strongly opposing any reduction in import duties in the proposed India-EU FTA. The European players are asking for heavy cuts in duty on exports to India.

When asked about his prime agenda during his tenure in Assocham, Dhoot said: "I want to boost the manufacturing industry and if it gets boosted, the government revenue will increase.

"Employment will also increase. These all will help in a rise in GDP and we will be able to achieve a double-digit growth."

Dhoot, who will take over as Assocham President tomorrow, said India has adopted many reforms and to implement these, the government should initiate "process reforms" in all sectors.

"All the policy reforms are in-place, but due to process reforms, these are not been implemented properly. We have a coalition government, so political issues are there. It takes time. The government has to adopt new methodology to take it fast," he said.

Besides, exporters have fear about red-tapism in the system and so the government has to take some "hard decisions", he added.

Talking about food-subsidy, Dhoot said it should be given to "only needy people".

"Massive investment in the agricultural sector is needed as enhanced food production is must for the success of food security for all... There should also be joint efforts by the Centre and states to modernise the public distribution system to make its reach more effective," he added.

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