Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on Saturday said that the structural reforms undertaken by the government in the past eight years will help India emerge among the top-three developed economies in the world. He added that 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.
According to the first advance estimates of National Income for 2022-23 on Friday, the Indian economy is estimated to grow at 7 per cent in 2022-23 as against 8.7 per cent in the previous fiscal, mainly due to poor performance of the manufacturing sector.
“GST is one of the important reforms and…despite the challenging global scenario, the recent GST collections have been very robust. India is now a more honest, transparent economy and people are now getting used to paying their taxes,” Goyal said on Saturday, while interacting on the occasion of the 27th edition of Wharton India Economic Forum via videoconferencing. The theme of the 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, 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.
The commerce and industry minister said the 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 the industry to grow.
He mentioned reforms such as privatisation, digitization of the economy, particularly the financial sector, decriminalisation of laws, and simplification of compliances to enable ease of doing business.
Responding to a question of which sectors are strategic priorities for the government, Goyal said that infrastructure, semiconductor and domestic manufacturing are some of the priority sectors. He also said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s focus is on building a robust infrastructure in India. The private sector is also contributing to this endeavour.
On the current geopolitical environment, 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 Modi has had several conversations with world leaders on this issue. India played a critical role in trying to get consensus at the G20 meeting in Bali. The minister said that due to the prime minister’s intervention, world economies were able to come to an outcome at G20, and hoped that it would set the path forward to finding solutions to the Russia-Ukraine war
Goyal said that 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.
On India’s renewed focus on signing free-trade agreements in the past five years, the commerce and industry minister said the country has now emerged out of the shadows of the past. India has recognised that multilateral engagements often lead to economic partnerships that may not be in the best interests of all the stakeholders.
He cited the example of India walking out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) because it was an unfair, unbalanced agreement. He said India’s interest is to enter into bilateral free trade agreements that are balanced, and 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,” Goyal said.
On the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic, Goyal said the upgradation and expansion of India’s health infrastructure is the topmost priority. He highlighted that the government has improved the quality of hospital infrastructure, expanded ICU beds and oxygen capacity manifold, almost doubled the number of medical colleges in the country.
He also mentioned that the focus is on skill development training of healthcare workers. He also spoke of India’s free health care program, the world’s largest, wherein 500 million people are eligible for free health care in India through a government-sponsored programme.
He said another learning has been recognising 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 growth story.
On challenges and opportunities for the next 25 years, Goyal said one of the biggest challenges is going to be changing the mindset of the nation to recognise 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 digitisation, making India a knowledge-based economy. He mentioned that India did over 74 billion financial transactions digitally, which is more than Europe, the US, and China combined.
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