President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday exhorted people to use locally manufactured products for a “better tomorrow” as he reiterated the government’s commitment to make India a USD 5 trillion economy. The President also said that fundamentals of the Indian economy were strong and the foreign exchange reserves were at a record high.
“I urge every representative of the people, from Panchayat level to Parliament, and every government in the country, to transform the philosophy of ‘buy local for a better tomorrow’ into a movement. I also urge every Indian to give priority to local products. “By using locally manufactured products, you will be able to help the small entrepreneurs in your area to a great extent,” he said while addressing the joint sitting of Parliament on Friday.
The fundamental mantra of independence was a self-reliant India, he said, adding that it is possible only when every Indian takes pride in every product made in India. The government, he said, was committed to attaining the goal of making India a USD 5 trillion economy and is making efforts at every level in consultation with all stakeholders.
The President, however, did not mention in his address any timeline for achieving the USD 5 trillion economy goal. In spite of global challenges, the fundamentals of Indian economy are strong, Kovind said adding that foreign exchange reserves have reached a historic high of over USD 450 billion. “Inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to India is also on the rise. As compared to last year, FDI has increased by USD 3 billion between April and October this year,” he said.
The President also said that the tier-2 and tier-3 cities of the country are emerging in a new role towards achieving the goal of USD 5 trillion economy. Since 2014, he said, start-ups in small cities have grown at a rate of 45 to 50 per cent. Similarly, about 35 lakh people have so far travelled by air under the UDAN scheme. “Last year, 335 new air routes have been approved.” It is estimated that in the coming years, more than half of the country’s digital transactions will take place in these tier-2 and tier-3 cities, the President said.
The government is doing its utmost to fulfil the developmental aspirations of small cities and the new middle class, Kovind emphasised. “The middle class in small towns has also benefitted the most from tax exemption on income up to Rs 5 lakh. The middle class families with annual income of up to Rs 18 lakh are able to save between Rs 5 to 6 lakh on home loans with tenure up to 20 years. “It is the middle class that will benefit the most from the Rs 25,000 crore fund provided by the government for completion of stalled housing projects,” he said.
The poor and the middle classes hope and aspire for a modern 21st century infrastructure in the country. To fulfil this aspiration of the people, more than Rs 100 lakh crore will be invested in the next five years, he said in his address. “…government is providing impetus to Make in India to accelerate the growth rate of the economy and to boost manufacturing and exports. Government is developing two defence corridors in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, in addition to 5 industrial Corridors in the country,” the President said.
Referring to merger of public sector banks (PSBs), Kovind said it has strengthened them and improved their lending capacity. In the first half of this financial year, 12 PSBs have reported profits. Due to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, nearly Rs 3.5 lakh crore has also been recovered by the banks and other institutions. Reduction of corporate tax and the codification of labour laws will increase ease of doing business in India, he said.
The President further said that presently more than 121 crore people in the country have Aadhaar cards and about 60 crore people possess RuPay cards. A record value of Rs 2 lakh crore has been transacted through UPI in December 2019, he added. The government, he said, has linked about 450 schemes to Direct Benefit Transfer or DBT by using the JAM Trinity of Jan-Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile. An amount of over Rs 9 lakh crore has been directly transferred to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries through DBT, during the last 5 years. By plugging the leakages, the government has saved about Rs 1,70,000 crore from going into the wrong hands, the President said.
The government has recently launched One Nation, One FasTag scheme which will ensure seamless mobility in the country, he added. “One Nation, One Ration Card is also being launched by the Government,” he said, adding that One Nation, One Tax, that is GST, has already promoted transparency in trade and commerce through use of technology. In the pre GST period, more than two dozen different taxes had to be paid. Now, not only the complex tax web has come to an end, the incidence of tax has also been reduced, Kovind said.