“We will get our growth back,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured industry leaders on Tuesday, throwing his weight behind the big ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ push exemplified by the Covid-19 package unveiled last month by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. More structural reforms are also on their way which will ‘change the course of our country, Modi hinted.
Getting growth back is not difficult, Modi said in his speech at the annual session of India’s premier business body, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), pointing out how the self-reliance slogan he unveiled in his last televised address to the nation. “World is looking for a trusted reliable partner. India has reliability and talent. India’s industry should take advantage of it.”
“India will be integrated with the world economy; supportive, but it also means we should not depend on others when it comes to strategic sectors. It is about creating strong enterprises in India that can become global powers, creating employment and creating global solutions. As PM, I am reposing faith in you. This is a ‘rise to the occasion’ moment,” Modi quipped.
The prime minister also used his appearance before India to give his stamp of approval to Sitharaman’s Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package, which had unenthused business circles and economists. Experts had derided the focus on the supply side with no stimulus measures that will immediately alleviate the demand side weakness.
However, a substantial chunk of Modi’s speech was a repetition of the salient features of Sitharaman’s reforms, announced over five tranches last month. “Let’s make ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ a reality,” Modi said, exhorting industry to make use of the opportunities the rule tweaks will offer.
Modi pointed out how reforms like allowing private enterprises into strategic sectors like space and atomic energy, labour reforms, removal of APMC, which will allow farmers freedom to sell their produce freely, etc will all throw up growth prospects. “Possibilities have been opened for you–opportunities are waiting,” Modi told the industry.
“Sabka saath sabka vikas, we are making decisions which were called on for many years,” he said, especially highlighting the coal sector. “Can you imagine a nation with so much coal reserves and so many great entrepreneurs still importing coal? But now, we have started taking steps to free the coal sectors–commercial mining has been allowed, as well as mineral mining.”
Calling MSMEs the “economic engine of our country”, Modi referred to the many schemes announced by the FM for this sector, which contributes up to 30 per cent of the economy. “MSME definition has now been clarified, a long-pending demand of the businessworld. Now, to maintain their MSME status, they don’t have to try ‘other’ means. Tenders upto Rs 200 crore in government contracts have been done away with, this will fuel the MSME sector,” the prime minister said.
“It’s true we’re in a slowdown. But our expectations are high, the world also expects more from us,” he said. He pointed out how, post-coronavirus, India needs to facilitate domestic industry revival and support next level growth. “Our market should now expand globally. Make products that will be ‘Made in India, Made for the World’, so that we reduce our debts,” the prime minister told business leaders.