Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday expressed confidence that the Indian economy will swing back to the high growth path in a short time despite the effects of the economic stagnation brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and the two-month-long lockdown that followed.
Delivering the inaugural address at the 125th annual session of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) through video conference, Prime Minister Modi said such online events are becoming the new normal due to Corona. This is also the biggest strength of human beings that makes a way out of every difficulty, he added.
“On the one hand, we have to take strict steps to fight this virus and save the lives of the countrymen and on the other hand we have to stabilise the economy and speed it up,” he said.
Modi praised the Indian industry for starting the discussion of "Getting Growth Back". He urged the industry to go beyond it and said, “Yes! We will definitely get our growth back.” He said that his trust in India's capabilities and crisis management, in India's talent and technology, in its Innovation and intellect of India, in the farmers of India, MSME’s, entrepreneurs makes him confident about getting growth back.
The PM said Corona may have slowed down the speed of growth, but India has overtaken the lockdown phase and entered in the `Un-Lock Phase One’. A large part of economy has opened in the un-lock phase one. A lot is going to open after 8 June. Getting Growth Back has started, he added.
The prime minister emphasised that when coronavirus was spreading in the world, India took the right steps at the right time. “Today we get to know how widespread the effect of lockdown in India is, by comparing it with other countries,” he said.
“Re-strengthening economy against Corona is one of our highest priorities. For this, the government is taking the decisions that are required immediately and also those that are required in the long run,” he added.
Listing the steps taken by the government in helping people during this crisis situation, he said, the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana has helped a lot in providing immediate benefits to the poor. Ration has been delivered to about 740 million beneficiaries under this scheme. Free ration is also being provided to migrant workers. Be it women, disabled persons, elderly, laborers, everyone has benefited from it. During the lockdown, the government has delivered more than 80 million gas cylinders to the poor - that too free. Five million private employees have got the government contribution of 24 per cent of EPF amount in their bank accounts, which amounts to Rs800 crore.
The prime minister listed five issues that are very important to build an Aatmanirbhar Bharat and to bring India back on the path of rapid development, viz, intent, inclusion, investment, infrastructure and innovation. These are reflected in the bold decisions taken by the government recently, he added. He also said that many sectors have been made ready for the future.
“For us reforms are not any random or scattered decisions. For us reforms are systemic, planned, integrated, inter-connected and futuristic processes. For us, reforms means having the courage to take decisions, and taking them to a logical conclusion, the PM said, even as he listed out the initiatives of the government to make an encouraging ecosystem for the private enterprises like insolvency and the bankruptcy code, bank merger, GST and faceless I-T assessment.
The prime minister further said that the government is also doing such policy reforms on which the country had given up hope. In the agriculture sector, the prime minister said, the rules and regulations made after independence, left the farmers in the hands of middlemen. After amendment in Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act, now farmers have the right to sell to anyone, in any state of the country.
The PM said that labour reforms are being done to increase employment opportunities, keeping the welfare of our workers in mind. Non-strategic sectors in which the private sector was not allowed, have also been opened. Commercial mining is now allowed in the coal sector, he added.
“In the direction the government is moving, be it our mining sector, energy sector, or research and technology, industry will also get opportunities in every field, and new opportunities will also open for the youth. Going beyond all this, now the participation of private players in the strategic sectors of the country is also becoming a reality. Whether you want to invest in the space sector, or want to explore new opportunities in atomic energy, the possibilities are completely open for you,” Modi said.
The prime minister said the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector is like an economic engine of our country contributing around 30 per cent of the country’s GDP.
Modi said a long time demand of the industry to update the definition of MSMEs has been fulfilled. This will enable MSMEs to grow without any worries and they will not have to follow other paths to maintain the status of MSMEs.
Global tenders have been scrapped in government procurement of up to Rs200 crore to benefit millions of associates working in MSMEs of the country, he added.
PM said that the expectation of the world has increased and they trust India more. India helped more than 150 countries with medical supplies and the world is looking for a trusted and reliable partner, He urged the industry to take full advantage of the trust that has developed towards India, adding that the country has the potential, strength and ability for it.
Modi, however, stressed that Aatmanirbhar Bharat means that we will become stronger and embrace the world. It also means to be fully integrated with the world economy and also supportive of it.
The prime minister stressed the need to invest in the creation of a robust local supply chain that strengthens India's stake in the global supply chain. He gave a call for big institutions like CII to come forward in a new role post-Corona to make India self reliant. He stressed the need to have products made in the country, made for the world. He urged the industry to set targets to increase productivity in all sectors. He credited the industry for having created the Personal Protective Equipments (PPE) industry worth hundreds of crores within 3 months.
The prime minister urged the industry to take full advantage of opening up investment and partnership with farmers in the rural economy. Now necessary infrastructure is being prepared for clusters of local agro products near the village. He said the government considers the private sector as a partner for the country's development journey. He promised that every need of the industry related to the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan will be taken care of. He asked the industry to pledge to make the country self-sufficient and put their full strength to fulfill this resolve.