New Delhi, Dec 4 (IANS) Indicating that “reforms” do not necessarily mean big investment or divestment announcements, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said there are ways to achieve economic targets by efficiency, targeting subsidies and translating good intentions to action.
Addressing the 13th edition of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit here, Modi spoke of his government’s “thinking” and “direction”, citing several instances to show how his government sought to bring about a change since he led the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to power 18 months ago.
Modi referred to expectations among industrialists for big-bang economic reforms, indicating that change is being brought about without causing social tensions or creating banner headlines in newspapers. He also mentioned the government is working for the poor.
Referring to the NDA government’s push for use of LED bulbs in 100 cities, Modi said it will lead to the saving of 21,500 MW power.
He said generating 21,5000 MW would require an investment of about Rs.1.25 lakh crore and if he had made an announcement of such an investment, it would have led to headlines in newspapers.
“This (use of LED) will also lead to saving of Rs.45,000 crore every year. You can imagine how a change comes about.”
Referring to his government’s push to make Chandigarh “kerosene-free”, Modi said steps have been taken to save 80 percent of the allocation which was being diverted. “This shows what is the direction.”
Modi said subsidy on gas cylinder has been linked to direct benefit transfer and has led to saving crores of rupees in subsidy.
He said “targeted subsidies” is not “seen as reform by Modi”.
“We have to change our thinking. What we consider ‘task’ can be achieved by other ways also,” he said, adding that the government also needed to pursue its duties of a welfare state.
Several industrialists were present at the inaugural session of the two-day summit addressed by Modi. The summit is focused on the theme ‘Can India be the world’s bright spot’.
Referring to 40,000 people giving up subsidy on gas cylinder on his appeal, Modi said “change comes about with the power of the society”.
On the central government providing Rs.80,000 crore in urea subsidy, Modi said the government has taken initiative of “neem-coating” to prevent diversion of urea for non-agricultural purposes. “This will help in saving huge amount of subsidy.”
The prime minister said the main factor for success is intention and after that “what is the policy, what is the strategy and what is the programme, time-table.”
“The need is to implement good intentions,” he added.
Modi, who got a standing ovation at the end of his speech and was cheered in between, said work has started on 65 of the 85 pending projects and cited example of Dabhol power plant in Maharashtra that has started selling power to the Central Railway.
The prime minister, who has always projected development as his government’s main aim, said there has been steep increase in production of power in his government as it has resolved bottlenecks about supply of coal.
He said electricity is the basic need for improvement in infrastructure and growth.
Referring to 18,000 villages still not connected to electricity nearly seven decades after Independence, Modi said he has set a target of providing them power in 1,000 days and was on the way to achieve the target.
“A villager will get electricity for the first time. The country is coming to use of the poor,” he said.
Modi said people can know the exact status about the progress of electrifying these 18,000 villages through a mobile application. He also spoke of the government’s steps towards linking ports to rail and the port sector having its own rail department.
“Till the time ports are linked to trains, we cannot be globally competitive,” Modi said, adding there was a tendency earlier to lay tracks according to parliamentarians’ demands.
Modi said the “reformists” will say the government should go for disinvestment (of public sector units) and once this is done, there will be slogans against him (by the workers).
Modi said there is a third option to bring efficiency, “corporatisation” and making the process of running a public sector unit apolitically.
“The country is moving ahead on the basis of programmes. This country will move ahead for sure. You have faith. The whole world is agreeing on this,” Modi said.