Narendra Modi addresses the nation during Independence Day celebrations at the historic Red Fort in Delhi, India. Reuters
India will soon launch a $1.35 trillion national infrastructure plan that will boost the country’s economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Sunday as part of independence day celebrations.
Wearing a flowing bright saffron-colored turban, Modi addressed the nation from New Delhi’s 17th century Mughal-era Red Fort to mark the 74th anniversary of India’s independence from British rule. He said the infrastructure plan will create job opportunities for millions of Indian youth.
“It will help local manufacturers turn globally competitive and also develop possibilities of new future economic zones in the country,” he said.
India’s economy, pummeled by the coronavirus pandemic, contracted 7.3% in the fiscal year that ended in March. Economists fear there will be no rebound similar to the ones seen in the US and other major economies.
In his 90-minute speech, Modi also listed his government’s achievements since 2014 and hailed India’s coronavirus vaccination campaign.
“We are proud that we didn’t have to depend on any other country for COVID-19 vaccines. Imagine what would have happened if India didn’t have its own vaccine,” he said.
India has given more than 500 million doses of vaccines but its vaccination drive has been marred by its slow pace. About 11% of eligible adult Indians have been fully vaccinated so far.
Modi began his speech by praising India’s athletes who took part in the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics. India won one gold, two silver and four bronze medals at the games.
Separately, To mark the 75th Independence Day of the country, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday announced development projects worth Rs1,200 crore for linking roads, along with a slew of welfare programmes for the Scheduled Castes.
The Chief Minister further announced that an Act would soon be notified which would mandate budgetary spending on the Dalit welfare equal to the percentage of SC population in the state, and the 85th Constitutional Amendment would be implemented in line with judgments of the Supreme Court.
Further, in order to facilitate ease-of-doing business, the Chief Minister announced a new set of a whopping 1,150 reforms for medium and small enterprises (MSMEs). The details of these would be separately shared by the Department of Investment Promotion, he said.
He also announced that certain expensive medical procedures and tests like dialysis, X-rays, etc, would be made free at government hospitals. He said a universal health insurance would be launched shortly.
Regularisation of all safai karamcharis working for the past 10 years and increase in the monthly honorarium of anganwadi workers, mini anganwadi worker and helpers by Rs 600, Rs 500 and Rs 300, respectively, were among other key announcements made by the Chief Minister.
A sum of Rs1,170 crore would be spent under the Punjab Nirman Programme for infrastructure development according to the needs of the people residing in the rural and urban areas, said the Chief Minister.
Referring to the welfare of landless farmers, the Chief Minister said the state government would make payment of Rs520 crore to 2.85 lakh landless farmers under the debt relief scheme on August 20, the birth anniversary of the late former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Further, the debt relief up to Rs50,000 would be shortly given to about 16,000 beneficiaries of the SC and BC Corporation at a cost of Rs62 crore, he added.
Taxation provisions: The governments decision to nullify retrospective taxation provisions has brought fresh lease of life to its strategic disinvestment plan with growing overseas investor interest in picking up management control of public sector undertakings put on the block for privatisation.
Government sources said that they have received enquiries from foreign multinational corporations about participation on its strategic disinvestment plan and the pace has increased post the Centre’s decision to amend retrospective taxation provisions in the Income tax Act, bringing about certainty on taxation regulations and improving country’s ranking several notches on ease of doing business index.
Accordingly, the strategic disinvestment proposals of companies Ferro Scrap Nigam Limited (FSNL), Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd, Container Corporation, IDBI Bank Ltd., Neelanchal ispat Nigam ltd may get extensions if more time is required to bring larger number of overseas investor participation. Also, government is seeing increased interest of foreign investors in the proposed initial public offer of Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) that is like later this year.
“The government’s move (on scrapping retrospective taxation proposals) would also build confidence of foreign investors to attract new investments that are crucial for reviving economic growth,” said Vipul Jhaveri, Managing Partner-Tax, Deloitte India.
“This amendment (retrospective taxation) tainted India’s image as an investment destination. The new changes will not only end prolonged litigation in numerous cases but will also uplift India’s image internationally as a fair and equitable taxing nation, said Mukul Bagla, Chair, Direct Tax Committee, PHDCCI.
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