Economy, people better off today; more action will follow: Modi (Roundup)

New Delhi, Aug 15 (IANS) In his Independence Day address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the Indian economy as the most preferred investment destination in the world and promised to bring inflation down to the targeted four per cent.

Every major global agency has ranked India as the best investment destination as the country’s economy has continued to grow well despite the global gloom, Modi said in his August 15 address to the nation from the Red Fort here.

“Be it the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank or the World Economic Forum, they have all declared India to be the best destination for global capital.”

On inflation, Modi said, “The government is working with the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) to bring it in the range of four per cent, plus-minus two percentage points.”

While the previous government had allowed inflation to cross the 10 per cent mark, his government has been able to push it back under six per cent despite two consecutive drought years, the Prime Minister said.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime that is being called the most radical reform in independent India’s indirect tax system will bring significant benefits to the economy, Modi said and thanked all political parties for supporting the legislation.

“GST is also one such tax reform that will help us bring financial stability,” he said. “One nation, one grid and one price is what we have worked on.”

Modi listed areas where he said India has made significant progress in the past couple of years, notably financial inclusion through Aadhaar, expanding energy services to the needy, and faster delivery of public services like the issuance of a passport.

The task of financial inclusion was impossible as many people were locked out of the mainstream institutions, he said.

“But the impossible task was made possible by adding 21 crore people in the Jan Dhan Yojana,” he said. The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana helps the poor to open bank accounts.

Modi said the government was trying to link all government schemes with Aadhaar to avoid leakage of benefits.

“We have connected 70 crore Indians to Aadhaar and social security schemes,” he said in his address.

Similarly, while it took six to eight months to get a passport, it just takes a couple of weeks now even though about two crore people apply for it annually compared with about 20,000 earlier, he said.

On energy, the Prime Minister said, renewable sources are his government’s focus, notably solar and wind.

So far, he said, 13 crore LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs have been distributed for a price of Rs 50 each and the target is 77 crore bulbs. “These 70 crore LED bulbs can save 20,000 MW of electricity worth Rs 1.25 lakh crore.”

To reach electricity to the remote corners of the country, 50,000 km of transmission lines are being installed now as opposed to 30,000-35,000 km earlier, said the prime minister.

“After 60 years of freedom, only 14 crore LPG (cooking gas) connections were added. But we have added more than four crore new connections in just 60 weeks.”

Modi also claimed to have turned around public sector enterprises, saying Air India, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), and Shipping Corporation of India are now making operational profits.

“Air India was notorious for incurring losses. My government succeeded in bringing Air India back to a situation where it is logging operational profits,” Modi said.

He said BSNL had been in a deep hole even though telecom companies worldwide were making profits.

“Under our government, this company has also managed to report operational profit.”

“In the case of Shipping Corporation, no one thought it could ever make profits,” he said.



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