Economic Times: November, 2016
New Delhi: The government will step up reforms to attract more investment in infrastructure and manufacturing sectors given the country’s “impatience” to grow faster, finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday. “We are looking to open up. We are growing faster compared to the rest of the world but by our own standards, we are not satisfied,” Jaitley said at the India-UK Tech Summit. “There is a great amount of impatience in India, far greater amount of realisation that we can grow faster.”
He stressed on the need for increased foreign investment in manufacturing to create more jobs. “If we look at the areas where we have growth potential, I think one obvious area is manufacturing. The share of manufacturing has to increase from the present 15% to 25% and that’s where we will realise we are creating far more jobs and expanding,” he said. “We wasted many opportunities in the past. An aspirational nation does not want to let go of any opportunities as far as the future is concerned… India has a powerful story to tell as far as infrastructure growth is concerned.”
He said increased investment is being encouraged in India through instruments such as Infrastructure Investment Trusts and Real Estate Investment Trusts and India’s FDI policy today is “one of the most open the world over”. Seven decades after Independence, India's voice is increasingly getting noticed in the world, Jaitley said. "Therefore, to reform more, to open more, to attract more investment, to expand more in manufacturing, [we need] to fill up the infrastructure deficit faster than what we have been doing," the finance minister said while pointing to the rising tide of protectionism in the developed world.
"Normally, it is the least developed and developing economies which have a tendency to cry for protectionism and that is a voice that's almost not heard in India," he said. "We are looking to open out.” There is a huge potential to grow in eastern India; rural areas have a deficit and offer tremendous potential to invest, he said. Jaitley also spoke on historic ties between India and the UK and viewed Brexit as an opportunity to take bilateral ties to the next level.
“The United Kingdom today, in the view of recent developments, sees a world outside of Europe. It sees in a country like India, one of its great partners in trade and relationship,” he said. Jaitley also pointed towards the numerous investment opportunities in the infrastructure sector. “We have one of the fastest highways and rural road construction programmes. We have a programme to upgrade 400 railway stations, create more airports and seaports, smart cities and these are all areas where we need a lot of investment,” he said.
Jaitley said that over the next decade or two, India will be providing qualified people globally at competitive rates that will help the country emerge as a hub of skilled manpower.