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Indian economy a haven of stability, says President

President Pranab Mukherjee

New Delhi : Describing India as “a haven of stability” in a turbulent global economy, President Pranab Mukherjee today said the government has simplified procedures for approvals, repealed obsolete laws and put in place a non-adversarial tax regime to attract investments.

Addressing the joint sitting of Parliament at the start of the Budget session, the President listed out achievements of the Modi government, saying India has jumped 12 places on the ease of doing ranking of the World Bank while foreign investment inflow has risen 39 per cent.

The government has taken to reforming institutions, simplifying procedures and repealing obsolete laws, besides unlocking infrastructure development opportunities as well as focusing on clean energy and cutting subsidy leakages.

“India is a haven of stability in an increasingly turbulent global economy. GDP growth has increased making India the world’s fastest growing economy among large economies,” he said.

Mukherjee said inflation, fiscal deficit and current account deficit have all come down and the country recorded the highest ever foreign exchange reserves in 2015.

“The government has taken a number of measures to put in place a simplified, progressive and non-adversarial tax regime by incorporating internationally prevalent best practices in tax administration,” he said refering to taxpayer-friendly facilities like e-filing of returns, electronic processing and retrieval of documents and online grievance redressal.

Also, procedures have been simplified to improve ease of approvals, and dedicated commercial courts and commercial divisions in high courts have been established. “For speedy resolution of commercial disputes, the long overdue amendments to the Arbitration Act have been made,” he said.

Stating that employment generation was the government’s top goal, the President said job creation is being driven through initiatives like Make-in-India, Startup India, Mudra and Skill India.

Mukherjee said the government has taken several measures to improve the quality of governance.

“Close to 1,800 obsolete legislations are at various stages of repeal,” he said.

NITI Aayog, the new avatar of the Planning Commission, is engaged with states in policy formulation in spirit of cooperative federalism.

Also, 500 e-governance services through public-private partnerships in 12 states have been taken up.

“Robust infrastructure development unlocks opportunities for all,” he said, adding that the Smart Cities programme envisages city development in a challenge mode.

As many as 20 cities have been selected in the first phase of the Smart City programme after intense competition among 98 cities. “Second and third phases of the programme are on the anvil,” Mukherjee added.

To enhance availability of clean energy, the government plans to increase renewable energy capacity to 175 giga watt by 2022 through offshore wind farms, bundling thermal power with solar power and setting up solar parks in states.

Solar power capacity has almost doubled in the last 20 months and crossed 5,000 mw. “Today, under my government, solar power is affordable and accessible to thousands of people,” he added.

Since the government assumed office, energy shortage has reduced to 2.3 per cent from 4 per cent. “My government is committed to providing electricity to all the census villages by May 2018,” he said.

Mukherjee said that while the Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) seeks to turn around the financially sick power distribution companies, 83 per cent of generation capacity addition target of 88,537 mw for 12th Five Year Plan has already been achieved.

Also, the government will commission major transmission projects for reducing congestion in transmission. Besides, critical amendments in the Tariff Policy have been introduced to ensure availability of electricity to consumers at reasonable and competitive rates, he said.

To provide the best market price to farmers, Mukherjee said, the unified National Agriculture Market is working towards setting up a common e-market platform to connect 585 regulated wholesale markets.

This would make India ‘One food zone, One Country, One Market’, he said, adding that farmers would get fair and remunerative prices.

Also, the government has notified the New Urea Policy 2015 with the objective of maximising indigenous production and improving energy efficiency. “The policy will lead to additional production of 17 lakh metric tonnes annually in the next three years,” he said.

To plug leakages and better targeting of subsidies, the government introduced the direct benefit transfer (DBT) for LPG for giving cash subsidy in bank accounts of nearly 15 crore cooking gas users.

For fertiliser, another major head for subsidy outgo, neem-coated urea is being supplied to plug leaks by preventing illegal diversion of subsidised crop nutrient to non-agriculture use, he said.

In the last 19 months, five new Mega Food Parks have been operationalised while 33 projects have started functioning under the Cold Chain Scheme.

The President said the government has introduced “dynamic and comprehensive reforms” in the coal sector and conducted transparent auction of over 70 coal blocks.

“Strong emphasis on increasing coal production has resulted in a record 9.8 per cent growth in Coal India Ltd’s coal production and highest-ever output of coal. This has also led to reduced imports of coal,” he said.

To give a boost to the mining sector and bring in transparency in the allocation of mineral resources, the Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation Act, 1957, has been amended and the auction of mines has commenced.

Mukherjee said the government has revived a majority of 73 stalled road projects, completed construction of 7,200 km of highways and awarded the highest-ever 12,900 km of highway projects.

The government, he said, has also formulated an umbrella scheme – Bharatmala – at an estimated cost of over Rs 2,67,000 crore for development of National Highways.

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