Japanese ambassador blasts business hurdles in India

Vol 5, PW 21 (05 Dec 01) People & Policy

Japan's ambassador to India Hiroshi Hirabayashi has launched an unprecedented attack on the frustrations and heartbreaks of doing business in India.

Speaking to the Financial Express on 27th November, Hirabayashi walked the thin line between plain-speaking and diplomatic nicety. "It is not easy to be working here," he said.

"Ask something else, or else I will cross the limits of diplomacy." Hirabayashi continued: "The joke is that India has 40 'single windows' for one investor. This isn't just true of Japanese companies.

All of us have our headaches. We discuss them in the entire diplomatic community." Hirabayashi described a "troika of obstacles" to explain why Japanese investment in India is "peanuts compared to what we are doing in China and South Asia." What are the obstacles "Poor infrastructure in railways, power, airports; red tape among the bureaucracy and the aggressive stance of (central and state) tax authorities who collect money from foreign investors to the extent of producing harassment." Hirabayashi had some tips for tax authorities: "I hope the understanding is reached that foreign direct investment is like precious ducks, which lay golden eggs.

If you squeeze them prematurely, you would lose the geese and the eggs that will be produced."