Union Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur has said that India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is successfully fighting the battle against Covid-19. He said the government has chalked out a roadmap to make India a destination for attractive investment. He exhorted India Inc to take advantage of the initiatives announced by the government to step up investment in the country.
Thakur said the government has taken a series of steps for India to increase its strength in the global supply chain. The emphasis is on to reduce imports and increase exports to make India Atma Nirbhar (self-reliant).
The four-time MP from Hamirpur in Himachal Pradesh, Anurag Thakur, who is also a former president of the BCCI, talked to IANS at length about the Indian economy which is facing the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic.
Reacting to the Congress allegation of an insufficient economic package announced by the government, Thakur said, “They demanded a package worth five per cent of the GDP, the government delivered 10 per cent of the GDP. We have given an economic package of Rs 21 lakh crore and will ensure that every rupee is spent and reaches the people. India has delivered the package in line with the global response to the economic fallout due to the lockdown.”
The Minister of State for Finance said, “Rs 52,608 crore has been sent to the bank accounts of 41 crore people so far. Rs 74,000 crore has been paid to farmers for procurement of their produce at minimum support price. Loans of about Rs 86,000 crore have been distributed to the farmers in last two months, which is apart from a moratorium of six months on loan repayments of Rs 4.25 lakh crore.”
He said the government has provided a working capital of Rs 3 lakh crore for the MSME sector with a guarantee from the central government.
“We will ensure that every penny reaches to the needy. We have also announced schemes for the NBFCs. We have hiked the budget for MGNREGA, taking it to a historic high which will generate employment of about 300 crore days in rural India. This is also likely to help the migrant workers who have moved to the villages from the cities. Not only this, we provided free grains to about 80 crore people during the lockdown,” Thakur said.
On the question of bringing the economy back on track, Thakur said, “We are working on a roadmap for this. This includes reducing imports of weapons and increasing manufacturing indigenously. This will also provide employment opportunity to our people. In fact, these are all steps in the direction of making India a global power in the supply chain. This will also boost our exports.”
Thakur cited several reforms initiated by the government to not only revive the economy but bring it back on track. He said, “Some bold and structural reforms have been initiated such as easing on limits on foreign direct investment in defence manufacturing, privatisation of six more airports and allowing private sector in commercial coal mining, which will open up investment in these sectors. Similarly amendments have been brought to Essential Commodities Act and APMC Act which will benefit the farmers They will be able to sell their produce at better price. Rs 1 lakh crore has been set aside for the development of agricultural infrastructure in the country.”
Thakur said Rs 20,000 crore has been allocated for improving the infrastructure for fisheries. This will boost exports of fish and it will be a one lakh crore economy soon.
Talking about bringing the companies who want to exit China and invest in India, Thakur said, “We have formed a committee of secretaries which will chalk out a strategy to attract investment in the country. This committee will get in touch with each state for smooth rollover.”
On the question of migration from rural India to urban India, Thakur said, each state will have to take steps in this direction. “I think ‘one district one product’ scheme can play a good role in this direction. Apart from this, we have extended loan benefits to the people engaged in unorganised sector to carry on with their businesses,” he said.
Talking about India’s fight against the global pandemic, Thakur said, “The whole world has praised India’s efforts in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. We will win this war by wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and cleanliness.”
He said India has a population equivalent to 15 countries worst hit by the virus, but the cases and deaths in India are not in proportion to that. He warned that it is not only the older people who at risk but the younger population also needs to be careful about it.
Thakur praised the efforts of his home state Himachal Pradesh in dealing with the crisis, and said that the state has fought a successful battle against the virus.