India's Ratan Tata denies attack on government

Indian tycoon Ratan Tata denied on Saturday calling India's business environment "venal" or accusing the government of "inaction" in media interviews.

A statement by the tea-to-steel group said Tata has always supported Congress Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the "last thing" he would wish to do is to be a critic as had been reported by a number of media outlets.

In Tata's interviews, he spoke about "coherence in implementation of government policy" rather than "rapping India" or a "venal business environment", the company statement said.

"These are terms used by the publications and not by Mr. Tata in any manner," the statement said, accusing the media of having "sensationalised" the business leader's remarks.

Tata is the outgoing head of a $100-billion empire and known as patriarch of India's business community. He retires on December 28 when he turns 75.

The Congress-led government is seeking to steer a string of reforms through parliament that aim to open up sectors such as retail, insurance and aviation to foreign investors and make it easier to do business.

But a number of critics have said the government will have to work hard to improve the corporate environment to draw foreign investors by cutting through red tape and reducing corruption.

The government won a final parliamentary vote Friday on allowing in foreign supermarkets -- a key plank of its renewed economic reform agenda.

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