L&T Chairman A M Naik on Thursday pitched for urgent land and labour reforms as well as quicker decision-making by the administration to help revive the economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The anti-China sentiment in India and across the world is a “game-changer” for the domestic industry, but we need to move beyond “knee-jerk responses” and have a long-term strategy in place, Naik said at the company’s 75th Annual General Meeting.
The remarks from the industry doyen come at a time when the government is looking at ways to arrest the economic slide after the COVID-19 pandemic and implementing various ways to revive the economy, which is estimated to contract by up to 9.5 per cent in FY21. They also come as the border standoff with China remained unresolved.
“It is essential that an enabling ecosystem for growth is created. Reforms are urgently needed in many sectors including land acquisition and labour. The financial system is also in urgent need of attention. In tandem, the administration would do well to streamline processes and accelerate the pace of decision making,” Naik said.
The anti-China sentiment across the world will help the domestic industry, but there is a need for a clear strategy, he stressed. “To leverage these trends and harness them for productive purposes, we need to move beyond knee-jerk responses and draw up a long-term strategy with a time-bound plan for implementation,” he said.
The government’s call on self-reliance was called as the “logical next step” after the flagship ‘Make in India’ initiative by Naik, who said the new campaign encompasses the entire value chain of design, procurement, manufacture and delivery. L&T has been championing self-reliance in the key sectors of defence, nuclear power, space research, power and infrastructure, he said. “This is an opportune moment for government and industry to act in unison and advance national interests,” Naik said, affirming his company’s commitment to rise to the occasion and contribute to national cause.
The company has contributed Rs 150 crore to the PM-CARES Fund, including Rs 19 crore raised from the employees, Naik said, adding that medical and personal protective equipment worth Rs 40 crore has also been donated by the company. It has spent Rs 500 crore a month during the stringent lockdown period to take care of wages, food, shelter and medical assistance of the 1.60 lakh contract workmen spread across projects, he said.
Naik said the “government and the country” are fighting challenges on multiple fronts. He elaborated that the government is battling a global pandemic while simultaneously trying to re-build and revive the economy.
“India faces an unexpected challenge as the result of friction on our northern borders,” he added.
Naik said he is hopeful of the second half of the fiscal resulting in better economic activity and pointed out that L&T is poised to capitalise on the National Infrastructure Pipeline project formulated by the government, which is likely to lead to increased spends in critical areas. “I am confident that if we as a nation remain united and resolve to set ourselves firmly on the path of growth, we will take a big step forward towards achieving our goals of self-reliance, strength and security,” he said.