Modi promises to continue reform-to-transform process

New Delhi, Mar 12  (PTI):India’s rapid economic growth that is now the fastest among big economies in the world is very distinct in Asia, he said.
Terming India a haven of macroeconomic stability, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today vowed to continue ‘reform-to-transform’ process and pursue policies that will enhance growth and further inclusion.

India’s rapid economic growth that is now the fastest among big economies in the world is very distinct in Asia, he said.

“We have never tried to gain in trade at the expense of our partners. We do not follow ‘beggar thy neighbour’ macroeconomic policies. We have never undervalued our exchange rate,” he said addressing a conference on Advancing Asia, co-hosted by India and IMF here.

Modi said India is a “haven of macroeconomic stability and a beacon of hope, dynamism and opportunity” amid global problems and has dispelled the myth that democracy and rapid economic growth cannot go together.

“India has also shown that a large, diverse country can be managed in a way that can promote economic growth and maintain social stability,” said.

Listing achievements in macroeconomic stability, he said there has been a durable reduction in inflation, steady fiscal consolidation, a comfortable balance of payments position and build-up of foreign exchange reserves.

In a difficult external environment and despite a second successive year of weak rainfall, India’s growth rate increased to 7.6 per cent, the highest among major economies.

“All of us need to pursue policies that provide a stable macroeconomy, enhance growth and further inclusion,” he said.

Stating that economic governance has improved, he said corruption and interference in the decisions of banks and regulators are now behind us.

“We do not intend to rest on these achievements because my agenda of ‘reform-to-transform’ still needs to be finished,” he said.

Modi said Budget 2016-17 provides a roadmap for future plans and ambitions.”Our underlying philosophy is clear: To create the climate for wealth generation and for that wealth to be spread to all Indians, especially the poor, vulnerable, farmers, and disadvantaged communities,” he said.

“My dream is of a Transformed India,” Modi said adding investment in the rural and agriculture sector has been increased and reforms in agricultural marketing introduced. Also, public investment in roads and railways has been raised.

“This will improve the productivity of the economy and the connectivity of our people,” he said. “Public investment is also essential at a time when private investment remains weak.”

Stating that India adds to world and Asian demand by running current account deficits, he said, “We are therefore good Asian and good global economic citizens, and a source of demand to our trading partners.”

Although Asia has slowed down, it is still growing at a rate three times greater than that of the advanced countries. “It is, therefore, the ray of hope for global economic recovery,” he said.

Many Asian countries have relied more on developmental financial institutions and banks than on capital markets. This provides an alternative model for the financial sector, he said.

India, he said, can contribute to Asian prosperity and development by being economically strong. “Amid global problems, I am happy to say that India is a haven of macroeconomic stability and a beacon of hope, dynamism and opportunity.

Listing his government’s achievements, Modi said a highly successful financial inclusion programme has brought over two hundred million unbanked people into the banking system within a span of a few months.

Also, the country now has the world’s largest and most successful programme of direct benefit transfers, in cooking gas.

“We plan to extend it to other sectors such as food, kerosene, and fertilizers. This has improved targeting and the quality of public expenditure,” he said.

Stating that nearly all sectors of the economy have been opened to FDI, he said India achieved the highest ever rank in the World Bank Doing Business indicators in 2015.

Also, all-time high in many physical indicators has been achieved in 2015, including in production of coal, electricity, urea, fertilizer and motor vehicles.

Besides, cargo handled at major ports has been highest ever and the fastest turnaround time has been seen in ports. Highest number of new highway kilometers have been awarded.

“Entrepreneurship is booming, following a series of steps we have taken. India is now fourth in the world in the number of technical start-ups, after USA, Britain and Israel,” he said.

Being a responsible global citizen in protecting the plant, India will by 2030 intend to reduce the emission intensity of GDP by 33 per cent.

“By then, 40 per cent of our installed electric power capacity will be from non-fossil fuel. We will build an additional carbon sink of over 2.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030, by creating additional forest and tree cover,” he said.

Stating that India has a number of cooperative initiatives in Asia, he said it is transforming the ‘Look East Policy’, into an ‘Act East Policy’.

“Our approach to cooperation is based on flexible geometry. We have integrated in different ways and at different speeds with our neighbours in South Asia, our partners in ASEAN and our partners in Singapore, Japan, and Korea. We intend to continue doing so,” he added.

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