PM Modi promises push for jobs, small and medium businesses
Prime Minister Narendra Modi slammed the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime on Wednesday for leaving behind a messed-up banking sector as well as hapless homebuyers, while asserting that the current National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government was replacing old and archaic policies with new frameworks to generate employment and help small and medium businesses compete globally.
He also reiterated that his government had carried out 87 major reforms across 21 sectors, including defence, construction, food processing and financial services.
Ahead of the last phase of Gujarat Assembly polls slated for Thursday, Modi batted for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), saying their dues were not paid on time by big entities. The SMEs have now been allowed to directly sell to the government through e-marketplace, the PM pointed out while addressing the 90th annual general meeting of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci). As PM, this was the first time he was attending an AGM of a leading business chamber.
In Gujarat, Modi’s home state, MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) have been protesting against the goods and services tax (GST) for long. The PM had earlier told MSMEs that the GST would make them globally competitive.
Stating that public was being misinformed about the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill, the PM asked for the chamber’s support to counter the “rumours” about safety of the deposits. He also sought the business community’s support to replace imports with domestic production.
The PM accused the UPA regime of pressuring banks to give credit to a few industrialists. The non-performing assets of the banking system were the biggest liabilities handed down by economists of the previous government, bigger than even the Commonwealth, coal and 2G scams, Modi said.
“My government is making new policies. Old laws are being scrapped and we are framing new ones. We have already come out with new policies in urea, textiles, aviation, transport integration, health,” he said. He said the new textile policy would generate 10 million jobs, while the urea policy had resulted in 1.8-2.8 million tonnes of its production without adding any new plant.
The reforms undertaken by the NDA government had pushed up forex reserves by $ 100 billion in the past three years to $ 400 billion, he said. “In the construction sector, 70 per cent of all foreign investments ever has come in the past three years, while air transport sector saw FDI (foreign direct investment) increasing by 75 per cent.”
He said the middle class was not getting possession of their homes despite handing over their hard earned money to builders under the previous regime. “Could the previous government have not brought out laws such as RERA,” he asked. The PM even listed out automobile sale statistics to bring home the point that the economy was doing well. The government’s policies have resulted in improvement of India’s rank by 30 notches in the World Bank’s latest ease of doing report, 32 places in the global competitive index and 21 positions in the global innovation index, he pointed out.
He also told business leaders and others in the audience that the government had created 30 million new entrepreneurs through Rs 4.5-lakh-crore worth of Mudra loans in the past three years. Among other achievements, he mentioned SIDBI had created fund of funds, which had been leveraged 4-4.5 times, while the government had allowed alternative investment funds.
He also hard-sold his government’s pro-poor policies, listing out initiatives like free cooking gas connections to women, bank accounts to every household, loans to the youth and affordable housing. On GST, he said the industry demanded it. “I recall that industry delegation used to come to me to press for GST when I was the chief minister of Gujarat.” However, some restaurants did not pass the benefits of the GST cuts to consumers, he added.
Small businesses should embrace GST even if their turnover was just a few lakh of rupees, the PM said, while stressing that the government was not eyeing revenues from them. It was all about transparency, he said. Those up to an annual turnover of Rs 20 lakh are exempted from the GST.