Asserting that there is no need to introduce legalised-lobbying in India like in the U.S., industry body FICCI said that it is not a lobby group and worked only as an "influencer" to engage the government on policy issues.
“We have never been a lobby group, we are influencers.
“I don’t go and talk about (tinkering with duties), but wherever the industry gets impacted on policy matters, I think it is the job of chambers to go and engage the government,” FICCI’s newly elected President Rajan Mittal said.
On whether the government should introduce legalised-lobbying to get rid of the malice of informal corporate lobbying through use of money, he said: “The government’s job is to be a facilitator; that’s what they should do, and if they do that there is no room for any lobbyist.”
In the U.S., however, lobbying is legal and the industry sets apart a budget for this activity.
“If the government opens avenues, removes obstacles and roadblocks, why should you have a lobbyist,” Mittal asked.
Asked if he saw a role for FICCI in disciplining corporates in the face of reports of growing malpractices in fighting rivals and insider trading, Mittal said: “I don’t think we have any role to play, our role is there to look at policy matters.”
Mittal, however, said that the government needs to deal with such entities and the chamber would back such efforts.
“If the corporate does not behave, the government needs to come down strictly on them. We will always back the government and it’s not our role to play an intermediary for anybody,” Mittal added.
Asked if the proposed Companies Act was a step in the right direction to deal with such malpractices, he said: “It is a better step than before.”
When asked what else the Finance Minister could have done in the Union Budget 2010-11, Mittal said the government should have laid out a clear roadmap for FDI in retail and insurance.
Mittal added that the Finance Minister could have also extended more tax benefits for investments in sectors like agriculture, food processing and cold chains in the Budget.
On the role of chambers, he said they have to stop looking at only policies that impacts the industry and should play a greater role of catalyst for social and other sectors for taking the benefits of development to the lowest rung.
“We only look at the policy change, that’s good, that’s a great objective, but I think the forum has to step beyond that. Why should I (FICCI) not be more concerned about education and health services, which is actually going to be the challenge and a bane for the country’s growth (if proper emphasis is not laid upon them).”