NEW DELHI: The Centre on Saturday announced a slew of reforms which promised to catalyse investment in eight key sectors including defence industries, coal, aviation, power distribution, space and atomic energy. For starters, the government will set up an Empowered Group of Secretaries to fast track clearances in all sectors. A Project Development Cell in each ministry will prepare a list of investible projects, coordinate with investors – both Indian and foreign – and liaise with central ministries and states to bring in and handhold investors.
The government would also invest in upgrading infrastructure in industrial clusters along with states and rank states on their investment attractiveness to help investors decide on locating their businesses. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who announced the reforms as part of the fourth tranche of measures taken to counteract the crippling economic impact of the pandemic, said: “The structural reforms being announced today will impact those sectors which are new horizons of growth, unleashing new investment, boosting production and creating jobs.”
The FM said an incentive scheme would also be brought for new champion sectors such as solar PV manufacturing and advanced cell battery storage. Saturday’s announcements were the fourth tranche of the package which is expected to be concluded by final package on Sunday. The government also brought in a revenue sharing model for commercial coal mining, which it had allowed earlier and wowed to auction some 50 coal blocs without any entry norms immediately to bring in fresh investments into the sector to reduce India’s coal import dependence.
The central government will also invest some Rs 50,000 crore in coal sector evacuation logistics and come up with a new auction for coal bed methane extraction rights. Sitharaman said some 500 non-coal mining blocs would be offered on auction in a seamless exploration-cum mining right and that the government would bring in joint auction of coal and bauxite blocs, mostly found in eastern India. Analysts pointed out that till now major global mining majors have given India a miss and its auctions had drawn responses from local firms only. Government officials, however, said they hoped following the global economic slowdown and with the right incentives, they may be induced to bring in fresh investments in the Indian mining space as also large Indian groups.
‘Will auction 6 more airports to promote India as aircraft hub’
Government officials, however, said they hoped following the global economic slowdown and with the right incentives, they may be induced to bring in fresh investments in the Indian mining space. “While some of the decisions had been taken earlier, the intention of the government in packaging them here as part of the economic counteraction measures seems to be to invite both foreign and Indian investors to come in with projects as soon as the lockdown ends,” said Prof Biswajit Dhar of the JNU, a well known trade and investment expert.
It has also been wooing defence and mining majors to foray into India, a bait which they have resisted till now by investing in driblets. The government also said it would auction six more airports and promote India as a global hub for Aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul. “We will be able to get to our destination in shortest possible time saving fuel and time (by removing curbs on flight routes).
It will entail benefits to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore per year for the aviation sector,” Sitharaman said. The FM also said the government will bring in a new power tariff policy to ensure that cross subsidies across the industry are reduced. The government also proposed to allow private companies in the space sector. Firms will be able to access ISRO facilities, participate in projects for planetary exploration and outer space travel.
A8,100 crore revamped Viability Gap Funding Scheme for projects proposed
Drawing in investments
India has been trying to woo factories and firms relocating from China through policy incentives. It has also been wooing defence and mining majors.