I had a detailed discussion with many of you colleagues ahead of the budget presentation. This budget has presented a clear roadmap to take India to a highergrowth trajectory once again. The budget also focuses on a strong private sector partnership in India's development. The budget has enunciated the scope and targets of public-private partnership with clarity. Disinvestment and asset monetization are an important aspect of this budget.
When public sector enterprises were introduced in the country, the time was different and the needs of the country were also different. There is always scope for improvement in the policies, which were right for the country 50-60 years ago. Today, when we are carrying out these reforms, our biggest goal is to ensure proper use of the public money.
There are several loss-making public sector enterprises. Many of them have to be supported through tax payers’ money. In a way, the money, which is the rightful due of the poor and the youth bubbling with aspirations, has to be put into the activities of these enterprises and as a result it puts a lot of burden on the economy also. The public sector enterprises don’t have to be run just because they have been there for several years and were someone’s pet projects. I can understand the need if public sector enterprises are meeting the needs of a particular sector or have strategic importance.
It is the responsibility of the government to give full support to the enterprises and businesses of the country, but it is not necessary and feasible in today’s era that the government should run the enterprises and continue to own it.Therefore, I say the government has no business to be in business. The focus of the government should remain on the welfare and development projects of the people. The maximum energy, resources and capacity of the government should be employed for welfare works. When the government starts doing business, it causes severe losses.
There are several hurdles before the government in the decision making process. The government lacks the courage to make commercial decisions. Everyone is afraid of allegations and legal implications. That’s why there is a thinking that let it continue the way it is, because my responsibility is for a limited time. Whosoever follows me, will take the call. Therefore, he does not take the decision and the status quo prevails.
You also know it very well that one can’t run a business with such an approach. There is another aspect to it which is when the government starts doing business the scope of its resources gets shrunk. The government does not have a shortage of the finest officers, but they are basically trained to run the government administrations, to ensure compliance of policies and rules, to emphasize the welfare of the people and to formulate necessary policies for them. They are trained in these things and they have expertise in it also. They have come up so far after working among people for a long period. Such works are of great importance in such a huge country.
But when the government starts doing business, it has to withdraw such promising officers from those positions and shift them to a new territory. In a way, we do injustice not only to their talent, but also to that public sector enterprise. As a result, the person is harmed and the enterprise is lost.And, therefore, it harms the country in many ways. The endeavour of our government is to improve the quality of life of the people and also to reduce the unnecessary government interference in the lives of the people. That is, there is neither shortage nor influence of government in life.
Today, the country has a lot of under-utilized and un-utilized assets under the control of the government. With this concern in mind, we have announced the National Asset Monetisation Pipeline. We have set a target of monetizing about 100 such assets in the fields of oil, gas, ports, airports, power etc.These assets are estimated to have investment opportunities worth Rs 2.5 trillion. And I would like to say that this process will continue in future. The mantra with which the government is moving ahead is monetise and modernise.
When the government monetizes a particular asset, it is replaced by the private sector of the country. The private sector brings in investment as well as the best global practices. It brings in top quality manpower and transforms the management. It further modernizes things and the entire sector is modernized. It also leads to rapid expansion of that sector and creates new job opportunities also. Monitoring is equally important so that the entire process remains transparent and according to the rules. That is, we can further increase the efficiency of the entire economy through monetizing and modernizing.
The amount received following the government’s decisions can be used in the welfare schemes. The money that comes from monetisationof assets and privatization is used in making homes for the poor, building roads in villages, opening schools and providing clean water to the poor. There are so many services related to the common man. Even after so many years of independence, there are such shortcomings in our country. Now, the country cannot wait for long.
Our priority is to fulfill the basic needs of the common citizen of the country. The government is working expeditiously in this direction. Therefore, every decision relating to monetisationof assets and privatization will help empower the citizens of the country, whether it is the poor, the middle class, the youth, women, farmers orlabourers. Privatization also provides better opportunities to the competent youth and they get more opportunities to show their talent.
You will find transparency, accountability, rule of law, parliamentary oversight and strong political will today while making every enterprise efficient. Our intention is clearly visible in the new policy announced for public sector enterprises in this budget.
The government is committed to privatization of all other PSEs, apart from fourstrategic sectors. We've also made it very clear that there should be bare minimum PSEs in the strategic sector. This policy will help in selecting individual companies with the medium term strategic approach beyond the annual disinvestment targets.
This will also create a clear roadmap for investments. This will create new investment opportunities for you in every sector and also have immense employment potential in India. And I would also say that these are all valuable assets. These enterprises have served the country a lot and are full of great potential in the future also. We have seen many times that when management changes, units touch new heights. All of you should not assess these enterprises from their present state of affairs, but look at the hidden future prospects. I see their bright future vividly.
Today, when our government is moving in this direction with full commitment, the implementation of the policies involved is equally important. It is very essential to ensure transparency, competition, perfect processes and stable policies. We will have to learn from the world’s best practices for proper price discovery and stakeholder mapping with a detailed roadmap. We have to see that the decisions that are being taken are beneficial to the people and also help in the development of that sector.
Many of you had put forward a few suggestions like tax improvement in sovereign and infrastructure funds during the Virtual Global Investors Summit in December. You have seen that it has been addressed in this Budget. You must be experiencing the speed of working in the country. We have formed an Empowered Group of Secretaries to speed up processes and address investors issues rapidly. Similarly, based on a number of suggestions, we have also created a single point of contact system to help large investors in every step.
Over the years, our government has continuously undertaken reforms to make India an important destination for business. Today, India is equipped with one market-one tax system. Today, the companies in India have the best entry and exit means. Compliance related complexities in India are being continuously improved. The problems related to logistics are being addressed. Today, the tax system in India is being simplified and there is emphasis on transparency. India is among the countries where the rights of taxpayers have been codified. Labor laws have also been simplified now.
The sky’s the limit for new opportunities in India for our foreign colleagues who are taking part in this webinar. You are also aware about the unprecedented reforms India has carried out in its FDI policy. Investors are enthusiastic about India in view of the FDI friendly environment and incentives like Production Linked Incentives (PLIs). This is clearly evident in the record FDI Inflow in the past few months. Today, the ease of doing business is not confined to the central government alone, but also in our states where there is a healthy competition. This is a huge transformation.
There is rapid progress in work related to modern infrastructure and multimodal connectivity to make India self-reliant. We are working on a Rs 111 trillion National Infrastructure Pipeline to upgrade our infrastructure in the next five years. It also has an investment potential of about Rs. 25 trillion for the private sector. These infrastructure projects are also going to promote employment and demand in the country. I also realize that many Investors are planning to open their first office in India.
I welcome all the friends and I suggest that the International Financial Centre in GIFT City will be of great help to you. The centre will be governed under the internationally comparable regulatory framework. It can be a great base to work for you. We are working fast to provide many such plug and play features in India.
This spell will start a new chapter in India's development journey. The decisions that have now been taken, the goals towards which the country is moving, will further enhance the confidence of the entire private sector. These expectations of the world's largest young country are not only from the government but also from the private sector. These aspirations have brought a very big opportunity for business.
Let us all use these opportunities andcontribute to building Atmanirbhar Bharat for a better world. I thank you wholeheartedly for joining this dialogue today in such a large number. You have rich experience of the country and the world. Your suggestions will help us to move these things at a faster pace. This is my request to you and I need your immediate help and a roadmap for early implementation of everything that is outlined in the budget, the policy framework of the government and the issues that I have tried to explain.I am confident that your experience, knowledge and potential can create a new world with India’s hopes and aspirations. I once again thank all of you and await your suggestions.