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Share benefits with poor, Manmohan tells industry

Friday 25 May 2007, by DASGUPTA*Ashok

Cautions corporates against "indecent profits," cartelisation

Resist excessive remuneration to senior executives CII should evolve codes to fight corruption

NEW DELHI: In a strong message to India Inc., Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday cautioned corporates against any form of cartelisation, while noting that efforts to maximise profits should be within the bounds of "decency and greed," as rising prices severely affected the common man.

In an indirect reference to the cement industry, Dr. Singh said: "The operation of cartels by groups of companies to keep prices high must end. It is unacceptable to obstruct the forces of competition from having freer play. It is even more distressing in a country where the poor are severely affected by rising prices."

He was addressing the annual session of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here.

While attempting to enhance profits, the private sector should show some self-restraint. The business community should resist excessive remuneration to promoters and senior executives so as to reduce conspicuous consumption because these aspects could sow the seeds of social unrest. "Even maximisation of profit should be within the bounds of decency and greed."

10-point social charter

Advocating a "10-point social charter" for sharing the benefits of economic growth with the less privileged and partnering the government to create a humane and just society, he reminded the corporate sector of its social responsibilities to the common man.

"Corporate social responsibility must not be defined by tax planning strategies alone. Rather, it should be defined within the framework of a corporate philosophy which factors the needs of the community and the regions in which a corporate entity functions."

The CII should evolve "codes of conduct" to fight corruption.

There were numerous successful companies that had refused to yield to corrupt business practices. The United Progressive Alliance Government would continue to create a friendly environment for the growth of the manufacturing industry and corporates must also facilitate more employment.

This would be possible only through expansion of economic activity, investment in human capabilities and pursuit of a socially, politically, environmentally and financially sustainable growth.

"The Government has its role and responsibility but so do [have] the better-off sections of our society. This is where I look to the CII for leadership."

Hailing industry for sustaining a high growth rate, Dr. Singh said that to be globally competitive, "you must work in a harmonious environment, an environment in which all citizens feel actually involved in economic growth and in which each citizen sees hope for a better future."

Unless workers felt they were cared for, "we can never evolve a national consensus in favour of more flexible labour laws aimed at ensuring that our firms remain globally competitive."

Show healthy respect

Among other things, industry must have a "healthy" respect for workers, and invest in their welfare, health and their children’s education.

The workers must also be provided with pension and provident fund benefits.

See online : The Hindu

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