Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Textiles, Shri Piyush Goyal today expressed confidence that the structural reforms taken by the Government in last 8 years will help India emerge among the top three developed economies in the world. He was interacting on the occasion of 27th edition of Wharton India Economic Forum via VC. The theme of today’s event was India leading innovation in the age of uncertainty.
Speaking on the most impactful economic reforms that will pave the way for India’s growth story in coming years, Shri Goyal said a lot of structural changes that have taken place in the last eight years have had a significant impact on the way the Indian economy is poised to take off. He spoke of GST as one of the important reforms and highlighted that despite the challenging global scenario recent GST collections have been very robust. He also mentioned that India is now a more honest, transparent economy and people are now getting used to paying their taxes. He said Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) is also an important reform measure that has resulted in robust banking systems in India. These banks have been able to provide the resources for industry to grow. He also mentioned reforms such as privatisation, digitization of the economy, particularly the financial sector, decriminalisation of laws, simplification of compliances to enable ease of doing business.
Responding to a question of which sectors are strategic priorities for the government, Shri Goyal said that infrastructure, Semiconductor, Domestic manufacturing are some of the priority sectors. He also pointed out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s focus is on building a robust infrastructure in India. Private sector is also contributing in this endeavour. Shri Goyal said Semiconductor is another critical sector for the Indian economy. Another important area is domestic manufacturing, and the government has introduced PLI schemes to kickstart Indian manufacturing in over 14 sectors. The Minister mentioned the Government is also encouraging the Private sector/ industry associations to determine themselves what support in what areas it needs from the Government.
Sharing his views on the current geopolitical environment in relation to tensions between Russia and the West, Shri Goyal reiterated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s belief that today’s era must not be an era of war. He further said India believes that dialogue and diplomacy is the only way forward to resolve the crisis and called for quickly resolving the conflict. He also highlighted that Prime Minister Modi has had several conversations with world leaders on this issue. India played a critical role in trying to get consensus at the G 20 meeting in Bali. Minister said due to Prime Minister Modi’s intervention, world economies were able to come to an outcome at G 20 and hoped that it would set the path forward to finding solutions to the Russia Ukraine war. Shri Goyal said, in India, the Government has been focussed on meeting the needs of the common man, ensuring availability of sufficient foodstocks, energy needs, adequate seeds, adequate fertilisers.
Speaking on India’s renewed focus in signing free trade agreements in the past five years, Shri Goyal emphasised that India today has emerged out of the shadows of the past. India has recognized that multilateral engagements often lead to economic partnerships which may not be in the best interests of all the stakeholders. He cited the example of India walking out of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) bcos it was a very unfair, unbalanced agreement. He said India’s interest is to enter into bilateral free trade agreements that are balanced, in the best interests of both countries. We are engaging with like minded countries particularly countries with a rules based order, transparent economic systems and entering into agreements which are a win win for both sides.
Speaking on lessons learnt from the covid pandemic, Shri Goyal said upgradation and expansion of our health infrastructure is the topmost priority. He highlighted that the Government has improved the quality of hospital infrastructure, expanded ICU beds and oxygen capacity many fold, almost doubled the number of medical colleges in the country. He also mentioned that focus is on skill development training of healthcare workers. He also spoke of India’s free health care program, world’s largest, wherein 500 million people are eligible for free health care in India through a government sponsored program.
He said another learning has been recognizing the importance of resilient supply chains. He recalled the nation’s struggle for critical equipment like PPEs during covid pandemic despite the best efforts. He said that the Government is now focusing on strengthening India’s capabilities in all these areas. He highlighted that these challenges were converted into opportunities for India’s future India’s growth story. Our Indian industry truly rose to the occasion, and India is now the manufacturer of personal protective equipment. He said that in the last few years, India has been focused on building enabling infrastructure, environment, to attract investors who believe in a robust, rules based system. He said focus is on structural reforms, massive infrastructure development, digitization, and the huge talent that India is offering to the world, which is helping rewrite India’s future.
Speaking on challenges and opportunities for the next 25 years, Shri Goyal said one of the biggest challenges is going to be changing the mindset of the nation to recognize and value the importance of quality. He termed this as the defining factor for the future of India. He said the Government will continue to support manufacturing to create jobs for a large number of people, focusing on digitization, making India a knowledge based economy. He mentioned that India did over 74 billion financial transactions digitally, which is more than Europe, US and China combined. He said the challenge is to get the mindset of the nation to work towards being a high quality, high technology, high service oriented, which can meet the needs of the rest of the world.