New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday made a strong case for repealing archaic laws and making it easier to do business in India, stating that the centre and states need to work closely to boost economic growth.
Addressing the sixth Governing Council meeting of Niti Aayog via video conferencing, the Prime Minister said that the private sector should be given full opportunity to become a part of government's Aatmanirbhar Bharat programme.
As many as 26 chief ministers, three Lt. Governors and two administrators participated in the conference. The chief ministers of West Bengal, Punjab, Telangana and Gujarat did not attend the meeting. Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani could not attend due to health reasons, Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar told reporters after the meeting.
The prime minister in his opening remarks, said the whole country succeeded and managed to build a good image when states and the Centre worked together during the coronavirus pandemic.
"The basis of the country's progress is cooperative federalism and today's meeting is to brainstorm to make it more meaningful and move towards competitive cooperative federalism," Modi said.
There is a need to bring competitive cooperative federalism not only among states but districts too, he added.
The prime minister also underlined the need for reducing compliance burden and repealing obsolete laws. "There are several compliances which are unnecessary and can be removed. Earlier, we had abolished 1500 archaic laws."
He asked the states to form committees to reduce regulations which are no longer relevant in the wake of technology growth. "We need to reduce the burden of compliance on the common man. The lesser the compliance, the better it would for ease of living."
Observing that the positive response received on the Union Budget for 2021-22 expressed the mood of the nation, he said, "the country has made up its mind, wants to move fast and does not want to waste time."
The prime minister also said that the Goods and Services Tax(GST) collections have crossed Rs 1.2 lakh crore and it can be improved further with more efforts by the states.
Modi further said that the private sector is coming forward with more enthusiasm in the country's development journey.
"As a government, we also have to honour this enthusiasm, the energy of the private sector, and give it as much opportunity in the Aatmanirbhar Bharat campaign," he added.
The campaign, he said, "is the way to develop an India that produces not only for its own needs but also for the world and this production also stands the test of the world."
Modi said that the initiatives taken by the government would provide opportunity to everyone to participate in nation building to its full potential.
Referring to the farm sector, the prime minister said that efforts should be made to produce agriculture items like edible oil and reduce their imports.
"About Rs 65,000 crore is spent on the import of edible oils which should have gone to our farmers. This can be done by guiding farmers," he said.
The prime minister said government policies will help farmers raise productivity and cut imports, adding that reforms needed to provide funds and technology for the farm sector.
Modi also urged to focus on the storage and processing of agriculture produce to reduce wastage. "Reforms are very important for farmers to get necessary economic resources, better infrastructure, and modern technology."
The prime minister stressed that the Centre and states must synchronise their budgets to ensure multiplier effects.
He also said that the central government introduced production-linked incentive (PLI) schemes for various sectors providing an excellent opportunity to increase manufacturing in the country.
The states, he added, should take full advantage of this scheme and attract maximum investment in themselves and also reap the benefits of reduced corporate tax.
He said the government is spending on infrastructure to boost demand and create jobs.
Further, the prime minister noted that bank accounts, free electricity and gas connection and proper vaccinations have brought changes in the lives of the poor.
He also urged states to form committees to celebrate India's 75th Independence Day.
Briefing reporters, the Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman said the meeting focused on six agenda items which included making India a manufacturing powerhouse, reimagining agriculture, infrastructure, human resources development, improving service delivery and health and nutrition.
Kumar mentioned that no discussion was held on three new farm laws. "Nobody talked about the farm laws," he said.
Most of the chief ministers emphasised on developmental agenda and timely completion of infrastructure projects, Kumar stated. He also said the prime minister wanted the states to set up district exports promotion council to accelerate development at grass root level.
Kumar added that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar pressed for a special port facility in Odisha for exports, which was also supported by Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren.
In his remarks, the prime minister announced that there would be a major increase in the economic resources of local bodies in the 15th Finance Commission.
In a first, Ladakh also participated in the Governing Council meeting, in addition to the participation of Jammu and Kashmir as a union territory (UT).