Economy getting back on track faster; big investment, infra push must become driving force for growth: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi says India will become a ‘global manufacturing hub on its own strengths’, adding that he does not believe in ‘gaining from the loss of others’.
Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is optimistic about the long-term growth trajectory of the country despite the fact that India is grappling with a slowing economy and economic disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak. PM Modi asserted that the economy is getting “back on track faster than expected” and all five indicators—agriculture, foreign direct investment (FDI) flows, auto sales, steady growth in manufacturing, and increase in EPFO subscribers clearly demonstrate that the job market was “picking up” now.

In an exclusive interview to the Economic Times, the PM said: “I feel the big push to investment and infrastructure should become the driving force for recovery and growth.”

Stimulus package and reforms

The Prime Minister further emphasised that the Centre will ensure that all necessary measures needed to continue stimulating the economy are “undertaken in a timely manner while ensuring overall macroeconomic stability.” Mentioning his government’s several reforms measures across various sectors such as coal, agriculture, labour, defence and civil aviation, PM Modi said these timely steps will help to put the economy back on the high growth path that it was on before the Covid crisis.

PM Modi also listed the extensive reforms brought in the agriculture and labour sector, and said, “It was often jokingly said that India had more labour laws than the labour in the formal sector. Labour laws often helped everyone except the labour.” He also mentioned that Aatmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant Inda) announcements are a “big stimulus to the economy, particularly to small businesses and the informal sector.”

Lives and livelihoods

He highlighted that the government focused on saving lives among the vulnerable even as many analysts and newspapers columnists sought incentives for the corporate sector, mentioning that authorities were able to “provide relief on a massive scale to people in a very short time, without any complaint of corruption.”

Stating that his government first announced PM Garib Kalyan package to ease the pain of the poor people, the Prime Minister stated that “free foodgrain and pulses to 800 million people for eight months is a programme without parallel in human history.”

PM Modi said his government took “a pre-emptive, proactive, graded, whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to tackle the pandemic. India has taken a science-driven approach,” adding that several studies mentioned that the Indian response “helped in avoiding a situation that could have led to rapid spread of the virus with much more deaths”.

Major world hub for manufacturing

Without naming Beijing, PM Modi said India will become a “global manufacturing hub on its own strengths”, adding that he does not believe in “gaining from the loss of others.” He further elaborated that India had the specific advantage of “democracy, demography and demand” to make this happen. “A new world order was formed after World War II,” PM Modi said, adding something similar will happen in the post-pandemic world.

Lauding India’s efforts during the past few months, PM Modi the country has become the “second-largest manufacturer of PPE kits in a very short duration and is also making a mark in manufacturing technologically advanced items such as ventilators and from almost negligible capacity earlier, we are now manufacturing thousands of ventilators in quick time.”

PM Modi said: “As per Moody’s, 154 greenfield projects from the US have come to India in 2020, compared to 86 in China, 12 in Vietnam and 15 in Malaysia. This is a clear indication of global confidence in India’s growth story going forward. We have laid strong foundations to make India the foremost manufacturing destination.”

Assuring that arrangements were in place for coronavirus vaccine distribution, the Prime Minister said: “I would like to assure the nation that, as and when a vaccine becomes available, everyone will be vaccinated. No one will be left behind.”

GST row

On the issue of goods and services tax (GST) compensation to states, PM Modi mentioned that while a consensus was evolving, and there is no truth in it that the Centre was insensitive to state concerns. “When VAT replaced CST under the UPA government, they had promised to compensate states for any revenue shortfall. But you know what UPA did? They refused to compensate the states despite their commitment. Not just for one year but continuously for five years. This was one of the reasons why the states did not agree to GST regime under UPA…we took it upon ourselves to clear those dues when we assumed power in 2014. This shows our approach to federalism,” the financial daily quoted him as saying.

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