Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao has said that international investors were still “waiting” to see a difference on the ground following from the government’s stated position of being ‘business friendly’.
“Like many international investors we are waiting to see the difference,” Colao said in an interaction with the media on Wednesday. Vodafone is the second largest telecom services operator in the country. The comments by the multinational company chief came on the eve of Prime Minister Narendra Modi launching a ‘Make in India’ campaign to promote, among other things larger foreign investment in the economy.
The Vodafone Group CEO was extending the comments made by his India MD & CEO Marten Pieters at the Economist Conference recently where he had said India remains a challenging place to do business.
While Vodafone has been served with a combined tax due notices of about Rs 32,000 crore by the previous UPA government including a Rs 12,000 crore one from the application of a retrospective provisions in tax laws, Colao said those were not his chief concerns.
“The key concern is the implementation of the political (call),” he said. The Modi government has to make the bureaucracy respond to the needs of the investors, he said.
Among the priorities for the telecom sector in the coming months, Colao said were the writing in of easier rules for mergers and acquisitions in the sector and coming up with more generous allocation of spectrum to the players. “The decision making (in the bureaucracy) is often slow and contradictory, where too many people have the ability to block you,” he said despite a political consensus to speed things up.
Prime Minister Modi in his pitch for Japanese investors referred to this problem early this month. At Tokyo he assured them that things are changing. “Now a red carpet, not red tape, awaits you.”
Colao added that the Modi government should not be however judged on its performance in the first hundred days. “It is the first thousand days that matter, I feel.” Colao will not be attending the Make in India event, though several foreign companies have agreed to do so.
Pieters said the company has no immediate plans to launch a public issue in India despite planning to do so earlier, since the uncertainties would push the valuation of the company down.