Prez unveils Modi’s roadmap for growth

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Capex cycle, investor confidence, jobs key focus

Prez unveils Modi’s roadmap for growth
The Narendra Modi government has put together an elaborate economic reforms package in sync with the party’s election manifesto.

Reforms will be aimed at bringing the economy back on high-growth path, reining in inflation, re-igniting the investment cycle and accelerating jobs, apart from restoring confidence of both foreign and domestic investors.

The first articulation on the much-expected economic reforms agenda came through the President’s address to a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament on Monday.

The Modi government is committed to making its economic policy ‘predictable, transparent and fair’, taxation non-adversarial and will introduce reforms to enhance ‘ease of doing business’.

It also sent positive signals to encourage FDI to create jobs and assets across sectors while moving swiftly to introduce the single levy, goods and services tax (GST) early.

The maiden budget to be presented by Arun Jaitley early next month will also come up with specific plans to galvanise the economic contours of what was made available on Monday.

Jaitley may come with a policy to push for ‘labour intensive’ manufacturing policy to create more jobs and turn ‘employment exchanges’ into ‘career ce­ntres’, as announced by Pr­esident Pranab Mukherjee.

The finance minister will also announce a road map for carving out world-class investment and industrial regions across the dedicated freight and industrial corridors to give a big push to manufacturing and make Indian goods globally competitive.

The Modi regime will also adopt the ‘hub-spoke’ model with single window clearances at centre and states to hasten up manufacturing projects across sectors.

Hinting at the UPA government’s failure, the president said, “We are passing through a very difficult phase”. He emphasised that GDP growth was less than 5 per cent last two years, tax collection had declined and inflation continued to be at an “unacceptable level”.

While committing to simplify procedures and give a legup to exports, the BJP government has put small-scale industries and handicrafts as focus areas by providing enhanced access to technology and marketing of products. A task force to review and revive medium and small enterprises has also been proposed.

The BJP government will also usher in ‘more liberal’ FDI in defence production with tightened norms for ‘technology transfer’. The government proposes a larger role for domestic industry in design and production of defence equipment. “India can emerge as a global platform for defence manufacturing including software, which will strengthen our defence and spur industrial development as well as exports,” the president said.

As part of its infrastructure focus, the Narendra Modi government has announced the diamond quadrilateral product of high-speed trains while a separate agriculture-rail network has been mooted to carry ‘perishable farm products’ quickly.

Apart from modernisation and revamp of railways, the government will also hasten implementing national highways, set up low-cost airports to provide connectivity to smaller cities, small and large ports along with development of water ways.

In the process, the centre announced revival of erstwhile Vajpayee government’s ambitious ‘Sagar mala’ project, a garland of small, medium and large ports donning the vast coast line.

As promised in the election manifesto, the government announced is intentions to build 100 modern cities and townships focused on specialised domains equipped with world-class amenities, cleanliness and sanitation.

On the farm sector, the government announced a slew of measures for long term and contingency plans in the works to tackle ‘deficient monsoon’. A 10 per cent increase in urea rates that happens annually may also be delayed, said government officials.

Meanwhile, the government announced a massive farm irrigation project named, ‘Pradhan Mantri krishi sinchayee yojana (Prime Minister’s farm irrigation project) to take water to every farm. It also announced water conservation and micro-irrigation to ensure judicious use of water.

The Modi government will also come up with a national policy on energy and usage of resources like coal, spectrum, water, land, oil and gas reserves. It will continue implementation of nuclear power projects that have been inked with different countries by the Manmohan Singh government.

As part of involving states in policy making, the centre has decided to revive the national development council (NDC) and the inter-state council. The two forums will be used to evolve ‘state-specific’ development models. Through these forums, states will play a key role in centre’s policies and programmes.

While reiterating zero tolerance to corruption, the government promised to usher in the Lok Pal quickly while engaging with other countries to bring back black money stashed abroad. A special investigative team (SIT) has already been set up for the purpose.

The Modi government also promised a huge e-governance drive to push for ‘empowerment, equity and efficiency.’ This will involve digitising administration from the centre to village level with a big focus on social media that would bring in ‘people’s participation’.

The centre has also promised to usher in governance reforms apart from overhauling the judicial system. It has said it wants to give more freedom to ‘babus’ to take decisions and come up with innovative ideas. Similarly, it has promised to double the number of courts at the lower level to reduce pending cases. It will also explore ‘alternative dispute resolution mechanism’ to reduce pressure on the courts.

The development plank on which Narendra Modi secured the mandate for BJP was in full flow as part of economic revival strategy in Mukherjee’s hour-long speech.

The government also promised to adopt at the centre several schemes run successfully by BJP governments in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Goa.

Taking off from its election mandate, the government agenda talked about ‘development through good governance’, ‘ek Bharat – shreshtha Bharat (one India – pristine India), ‘Sabka saath, sabka vikas (with everybody, development for all), minimum government and maximum governance.

It has also announced a national mission on Himalayas, set up separate university for Himalayan studies, clean Ganga, promote cleaner fuels, regeneration of forests apart from promoting Indian languages, culture and traditions. The electoral promise with strong Hindutva overtones was intertwined with environment concerns.

The government plans to develop 50 tourism circuits, especially pilgrimage tourism, where the avowed objective is to provide jobs.

On the political front, the Modi government has promised 33 per cent reservation for women in parliament and state legislatures. It has also announced a grandiose plan for the girl child, named ‘beti bachao – beti padhao’ (save the girl child – educate her). This will be on lines of such projects being run by BJP governments in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa that has also fetched in handsome electoral dividends for the party.

The government also announced ‘zero tolerance’ to crime against women and girl children. This assumes significance in wake of recent reports of violence and rapes in Uttar Pradesh putting the Akhilesh Yadav government in the dock.

The Modi regime also announced ‘swachh Bharat mission’ (clean India mission) with focus on providing a toilet in every home over the next five years, i.e. 2019. It also coincides with big celebrations planned for the year as tribute to Mahatma Gandhi during his 150th year anniversary.

The new government has announced sweeping reforms in the education system with focus on skills through an ambitious campaign ‘har haath ko hunar’ (skills for every hand). With a view to focus on evolving skills, the government would set up a multi-skills mission along with IITs and IIMs in every state.

On the health front, the government will shortly come up with a national health policy and health insurance mission to provide affordable healthcare. Apart from promoting Indian medicine and healthcare systems like Yoga and Ayush, the government proposes to set up AIIMS like institutes in all 29 states.

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