Prime Minister of Bhutan Tshering Tobgay Ji,
Governor of Assam Professor Jagdish Mukhee Ji,
Chief Minister of Assam Shri Sarbananda Sonowal Ji,
The delegates from all over the world, particularly the delegates from ASEAN who are present here,
Entrepreneurs from all parts of the country who are present here and other dignitaries,
Aji Aei Hon-Milonat Uposthit Apona Lok Hokoloke Moi Antorik Hubhesa Gyapon Korinso.
Logote Okhomor Homuho Raijo-Loi Mor Gobheer Shordha Gyapon Koriso.
I welcome all of you to this ‘Global Investors Summit’. Your presence in this summit reflects how Assam is marching ahead on the path of development. The presence of Prime Minister Tobgay as the chief guest is, particularly a testimony to the deep friendship between India and Bhutan.
We adopted Act East Policy of which the North-east is at its heart.
The Act East Policy requires increased people to people contact, trade ties and other relations with countries on India’s east, particularly the ASEAN countries. The tag-line of this Summit is very appropriate and it gives a big Message.
‘Advantage Assam: India’s Express way to ASEAN’ is not just a statement but it is also a holistic Vision. Recently, we had the ASEAN India Summit celebrating 25 years of our partnership. ASEAN-India partnership, may be 25 years old but our ties with these nations go back to thousands of years. It was a privilege for India to host the Heads of 10 ASEAN countries as our honoured Guests at the Republic Day function in New Delhi.
Bangladesh has recently opened a consulate in Guwahati, becoming the first country to do so. I am happy to learn that The Royal Government of Bhutan has also opened Bhutanese Consulate in Guwahati yesterday.
Brothers and sisters,
India’s growth story will grow at a faster pace only when there is a fast paced and balanced development of the people living in the North-East, of the society here and of course the entire region.
I believe that the entire region of eastern India from Imphal to Guwahati and from Kolkata to Patna should become the new centre of energy for the development of India. This is our vision and this is our approach.
The results of the efforts made by the central government in the last three and a half year and by the Assam government in the last one and a half years while following this vision is now visible clearer than ever. Today, the scale at which this program has been organised, nobody could have thought of this even a few years ago. This has become possible because the old thinking inour country that ‘nothing could change in this country’ has changed. Today, people have optimism and courage instead of despair.
Today, roads are being laid at twice the earlier speed, work to convert railway tracks to two-lanes is being done at twice earlier the speed, and electrification of railway tracks are taking place at twice the earlier speed.
Brothers and sisters,
We are orienting all our schemes to a direction which will bring about qualitative change in the lives of the poor, lower middle class and middle class. We are joining the schemes with peoples’ requirements, the kind of schemes that will make their lives easier and improve their ease of living.
You must have heard that the government had announced ‘Ayushan Bharat Scheme’ in the budget. This is the largest scheme of its kind in the world.
The one who has been raised in the midst of poverty, who has moved ahead while bearing the pain of poverty, is well aware that a poor man’s biggest concern is treatment of disease. When a family member falls seriously ill the whole family faces financial crisis for a long time. In order to bring the poor out of the agony, we are linking more than 10 crore families with this Ayushman Bharat Scheme. Under it every poor family will be provided with the facility of free treatment of up to Rs. 5 lakh in the designated hospitals. This scheme will benefit nearly 45 to 50 crore people of the country. The potential for creating a chain of hospitals in tier-II and tier-III cities has increased. It will become a source of assured income for youth. This will create large scale opportunities for capital investment in the hinterland. I would call upon the state governments to formulate policies for establishing new hospitals. In addition to Ayushman Bharat scheme, the government has reduced the health related concerns of the poor through two other schemes.
This government has provided a shield to more than 18 crore poor people through Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana and Jeevan Jyoti Yojana. It has freed them from a big worry. Besides this, this government has done several other things like the selling of more than 800 affordable drugs through more than 3,000 Jan Aushadhi centres, reduction of up to 85% in the cost of stents, regulation of the cost of knee implant – all these have been providing big relief to middle class.
Whether it is ASEAN countries or Bangladesh, Bhutan or Nepal, in a way all of us are farming countries. Farmer’s progress can take this entire region to a new height of development. That is why our government has been working on the goal of doubling the farmer’s income. In order to achieve this goal while on the one hand the thrust of the government is on reducing the input cost of farmers and on the other we are also working to ensure that farmers get remunerative prices. This year the government is going to spend more than 14 lakh crore on agriculture and rural sector. Just two days ago we have announced a big decision to ensure the remunerative prices to farmers. Under that at least 50 per cent more price than the cost of their produce, it means the price of at least one and a half times higher than the input cost will be assured. In addition to this the government will develop 22 thousand rural markets as rural agriculture market and those will be linked with e-NAM (electronic National Agriculture Market) platform.
Brothers and sisters,
A few weeks ago we have taken another very important decision and since I’m in North-East today I’d certainly like to talk about it.
Scientifically bamboo falls into the category of grass. However, 90 years ago our law makers categorised it as a tree. As a result wherever bamboo is grownfor its logging and transportation a permit is required. I feel that if the people of any region of the country had suffered most because of this law it is the people of North East. So many years have passed since the independence and several governments came to power during this period. But the work of taking bamboo out of the category of tree for the welfare of millions of farmers and tribal people was not done until our government came to power. Now we are restructuring the National Bamboo Mission with a cost of Rs. 1,300 crore. The people of North East, especially the farmers of this region are going to get one more benefit through the budget.
Brothers and sisters,
While it is easy to get loan for agriculture, it is not easy for farmers to get loans for the other allied activities related to agriculture like poultry, fishery, honeybee keeping and animal husbandry. Now we have decided to constitute two infrastructure funds with an outlay of Rs. 10,000 crore especially for fisheries and animal husbandry. Also, the government has made it easier to borrow a loan through Kisan credit cards.This government has taken this kind of policy decisions in the field of affordable housing and carried out reforms which will help in realising the government’s goal of providing a house to every poor person of the country.
More than one crore houses have been constructed in the last three years under the Prime Minister Avas Yojana. We have just announced in this budget that 51 lakh new houses will constructed next year as well in addition to construction of the same number of houses this year. The government has been giving a lot of relaxation to lower middle class and middle class by keeping their expectations in mind.
Besides, RERA – Real Estate Regulation and Development Act has brought transparency in this sector and it has become easier for middle class to get houses. Of late the investment in the field of affordable housing has increased significantly and I appeal to the foreign investors to participate in this sector in a big way.
Brothers and sisters,
A big example of this thing is that how a government scheme – Ujala Yojana - has been bringing about energy revolution in the country and providing a big relief to the middle class. LED bulb which was selling for Rs. 350 a piece during the previous government is now available for Rs. 40 to 45. As per one estimate, a household where 5 LED bulbs have been installed that is able to save Rs. 400 to 500 on electricity bill every month. So far more than 28 crore LED bulbs have been distributed across the country under the Ujala scheme. And because of this thing most of middle class households of the country are able to save nearly Rs. 15,000 crore per year. Also, the demand for LED bulbs has gone up in the ASEAN countries and it’s a good opportunity for Indian traders.
Finishing the work by setting the goals is a work culture of this government. Dhola Sadia bridge which was dedicated to public by me, the people of Assam understand this thing that if the bridge was continued to be built as earlier then that bridge would be under construction even today. We have done the work of revamping the way of working of entire structure of governance. And as a result of this thing it’s not only that we are completing the project in time but we are also in a situation where we can complete the schemes before time. Similarly, we were also moving in the direction of completing the Ujjwala scheme, which is aimed at setting the poor women free from the smoke of wood stoves ahead of the schedule.
Our goal was to provide free gas connections to five crore poor women by 2019. As of now we have provided relief to more than 3.3 crore women through this scheme. But in this budget we have decided that now free gas connections will be given to more than 8 crore poor women under Ujjwala scheme.
The way the aspirations of our young generations were neglected in the 10 years preceding 2014 cannot be easily forgotten. The youth of this country wanted to do something on its own. However, when he went to borrow a loan from banks then he was asked to furnish a bank guarantee. We have removed this compulsory condition of furnishing a bank guarantee through Mudra scheme. This scheme has given three crores new entrepreneurs to the country in the last three years. They are the people who have started their own work, those, who are doing their own business.In this budget, the government has set a target of providing loans worth Rs. 3 lakh crore to people for self-employment under the Mudra scheme. In addition to this, this government has been doing the work of empowering the youth through Stand up India, Start up India, Skill India Mission. Moreover, the government has been reforming the labour laws, simplifying the processes by following the principle of Shramev Jayate.
While earlier the industrialists were required to maintain more than 50 registers for compliance with labour laws, now it can be done through five registers only. We have made most of the processes based on internet through Shram Suvidha portal. Now a new company can be registered in the country in a day whereas earlier it used to take up to a week.These reforms have benefitted most to the country’s youth and small entrepreneurs.
Development of MSME sector is a priority for us as this is the back-bone of our industries.
In this year’s budget we are giving a big relief to MSMEs by reducing rate of income tax to 25% on companies reporting a turn-over of up to Rs. 250 crore. This will benefit almost 99% of companies.
The formalisation of businesses of MSMEs due to introduction of GST, will help MSMEs to access credit from financial sector. Now, Government will contribute 12% to EPF for new employees in all sectors for three years.
This Budget has provided additional deduction to the employees of 30% of the wages paid for new employees under the Income Tax Act.
We are also rolling out e-assessment of income tax across the country to eliminate corruption and bring efficiency and transparency. Further, the women employees’ contribution to EPF will be 8% for first three years against existing rate of 12%.
Paid maternity leave has been increased from 12 weeks to 26 weeks, along with provision of crèches to incentivise women employment in the formal sector. All these efforts, will strongly support ‘Make in India’ Also.
Today, I’d like to express my gratitude to the business class of this country from this platform because not only it accepted GST - the system for economic unification of the country – but it also included this in its business culture. Our government has also taken another big step in form of insolvency and bankruptcy code for bringing economic transparency in the country.
The need for this kind of code had been felt in India for several years because of international conventions. This is the government that has solved this problem.
The Union Government has taken up many path breaking economic reforms in last three years, which have simplified procedures for doing business.
It is a result of these reforms that India today ranks 100 among 190 countries in the Doing Business Report, of the World Bank, after climbing up 42 ranks!
The position of India has improved in many other ratings like Global Competitive--ness Index of World Economic Forum and Moody’s rating upgrade from stable to positive in November 2017.
Our policies have ensured that inflation remains below 5% mark. Now, we have Foreign Exchange Reserves of US Dollars 418 Billion. Many new sectors have been opened for 100% FDI through automatic route like Automobiles, Textiles, Tourism, Ports, Roads & Highways.Today, India is one of the most preferred destinations for FDI. India has received highest ever annual FDI of USD 60 Billion in 2016-17.
The world sees India today, as an emerging power house for economic growth.
I am happy to note that Assam is ranked first among the North Eastern States in the Ease of Doing Business report. I am sure that with the present leadership of the State Government, Assam is going to further improve its current position to emerge as one of the most sought after states for industrial investment in the country.
Friends, today our focus is on infrastructure investment and next year we will be investing about Rs. 6 lakh crore in this sector.This year we aim to complete more than 9,000 kilometers length of National Highways.
We will be developing 35,000 kilometers of roads with investment of Rupees 5.35 lakh crore under ‘Bharatmala’ project.
The Railways will make an investment of Rupees 1.48 lakh crore in 2018-19.
Our target is to re-develop 600 major Railway Stations in coming years. All these investments decisions will speed up development and are expected to generate lakhs of jobs in the coming years.
Today, I would like to discuss one more topic. Bhupen Hazaria, the great son of this land, had written a poem when he was just 13 years old. At that time it was British rule and this entire region was under the shackles of slavery.
At that time late Bhupen Hazarika had written:
Notun Aukhum Gaudheem
Har Bauharar Harbasva
Punaur Firai Aneem
Notun Aukham Gaudheem’
‘I’m like a spark in this period that is raging like a fire.
I will create a new Assam.
Those who are persecuted and excluded, I will bring back whatever they have lost.
I will create a new Assam.’
It is our collective responsibility to fulfill the dreams of millions and millions of brave freedom fighters of different regions of the country. In order to fulfill this responsibility all of us have made a solemn pledge to realise the dream of a New India by 2022.
In this journey of achieving success through solemn resolve, schemes have been formulated and implemented by keeping in mind the requirements of the people of North East and by understanding the requirements of the people of North East.
I believe that the eight states of North-East, The Asht Lakshmi (the eight goddesses of beauty and prosperity), are new growth engines for the development of the country and providing momentum to them means providing momentum to the development of the country. That is why our government has been placing emphasis on the policy of transformation by transportation in North East. The investment made in the infrastructure sector has been changing the landscape of this entire region.
In the last three years, on an average Rs. 3,500 crore has been spent per year in the North East in the railway sector alone. The work on 15 new rail lines is being done in the North East with an estimated cost of Rs. 47,000 crore. When the work on Agartala-Akhaura railway line will be complete in the coming days, when the rail connectivity will be established between Tripura-Bangladesh then it will benefit the entire region. The government has approved the construction of nearly 4 thousand kilometers long national highways in North East with an estimated cost of Rs. 33 thousand crore.
In addition to this, in the next two to three years the government will spend Rs. 90 thousand crore in construction of roads and highways in North East.
Brothers and sisters,
Prime Minister’s Rural Road scheme which was started during the tenure of Atal Ji and which was slated to be completed by 2022 now we have reduced the time for its completion to 2019.
Not only this, in this budget we have also announced that under the Prime Minister Rural Road Schemes not only villages will be connected but the big schools of the villages, hospital and big markets will also be connected.
The schemes worth over Rs. 10,000 crore has been started in order to strengthen the power sector and intra-state transmission and distribution in this region. The work on building a world class airport terminal building in Guwahati is going to start very soon which will further strengthen the connectivity of North East, particularly of Assam with ASEAN countries. The government is giving special priority to North East under the Udan scheme. The work has been done in the direction of linking the 19 airports and helipads of this region, five of them are in Assam alone, with the other cities of the country.
The centre’s decision to provide e-visa facility to the tourists of more than 160 countries will also play an important role in the development of tourism in this region.
The central government has also approved the construction of a new AIIMS in Guwahati with a cost of more than Rs. 1,100 crore. Also, the government has been working towards connecting the North East with national gas grid. GAIL has sanctioned a project to lay a gas pipeline up to Guwahati at a cost of Rs. 3,000 crore.
Recently central government has approved a new scheme: North-East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme. Under this scheme, the central government will complete infrastructure related schemes by providing 10 per cent funding. This investment in the North East will help in boosting the tourism in the region and it will also bring new opportunities of employment for the youth and women of this region.
I congratulate chief minister of Assam Shri Sarbananda Sonowal who has created a business friendly and development friendly environment in the state in a very short span of time. Government of Assam has also taken tough measures against corruption. Also, government of Assam is providing tax incentives for setting up of industries and for boosting tourism. New IT policy, new start-up policy, new sport policy, newsugar policy and a new solar energy policy have been implemented. I also congratulate the state government for this thing as well that it has been developing Guwahati as business hub for trade with ASEAN countries. Guwahati has also been developed as a smart city.
Once again I congratulate the people of Assam and North East for holding such a big event with great fervour. I also express my thanks to the participating dignitaries who came from the ASEAN and BBIN countries in the Global Investor Summit.I am sure the Summit is just a beginning and will add a new chapter to our thousand years old relations with you.
Once again I convey my best wishes to the people of North East, to the people of Assam for this special event.
Apuna Lokok Bahut Bahut Dhanyabad.
Thank you very much to all of you.