The US Ambassador to India David Mulford voiced concerns of the investment community that the coalition politics has caused a “a pause in the reform process” and warned of “serious economic costs to any loss of momentum on the reform front.”
He also bemoaned that while “Privatization has stopped… reform of other key sectors and policies of central interest to investors will take longer than envisioned.”
Speaking at the third Indo-US economic summit, Mulford absolved Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as “he has also indicated that higher growth requires continued reforms” but questioned how his hope “for even higher than 8% per annum for India” be achieved. Mulford rubbed it in saying “the World Bank still ranks India 134 out of 175” countries “for the difficulties of establishing or operating a business.” Referring to the state take over of Coca Cola and International Business Machines (IBM), Mulford says that “ US firms have many unresolved legacy issues involving prior investments in India .”
The US wants reform in the financial sector and retail and the “need for the right conditions” so substantial amount of capital waiting to be invested and this could bring “positive impact on the future rate of economic growth.” While US investors are keen to invest in infrastructure, energy, and agriculture and even help India meet structural challenges, he said they also expected better governance, market sensitive regulatory regimes, continued liberalization, and time-bound investor-state dispute resolution.
Chief guest Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee disagreed with Mulford saying that reforms were “a continuous process” and that in a democracy “there could be minor hitches in the process of reforms.” He said that “decisions can be taken only after debate and due consideration” and that “Hasty decision making can have its own negative repercussions.” Mukherjee said the “good news” is that the nation had “mechanisms” that “are in place to identify bottlenecks and removing them.”
The communist allies of the Government criticized the US Ambassador for “interfering” with the internal working of the country.