“Most fears are from par­ti­san pol­i­tics”

Anand Sharma, Union min­is­ter for com­merce and in­dus­try, doesn’t be­lieve man­u­fac­tur­ing has taken a beat­ing in In­dia. He tells Spe­cial Cor­re­spon­dent KUMAR AN­SHU­MAN that re­cent mea­sures un­der­taken by the Govern­ment will give man­u­fac­tur­ing a much- needed fill

India Today - - THE BIG STORY -

Q. The Govern­ment has de­cided to boost man­u­fac­tur­ing and ex­ports. But isn’t it too late? A. Boost­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing is not only an eco­nomic ne­ces­sity but also a so­cial im­per­a­tive. The National Man­u­fac­tur­ing Pol­icy was ap­proved by the Cabi­net in Oc­to­ber 2011. A se­ries of FDI- re­lated de­ci­sions were also taken in the last two years. Ex­port pro­mo­tion mea­sures too have been a con­tin­u­ous ex­er­cise. We are in con­stant con­sul­ta­tion with the in­dus­try and ex­porters to pro­vide all pos­si­ble help. A de­pressed global eco­nomic sce­nario has made our task dif­fi­cult but I am sure that very soon our ef­forts will bear fruit. Q. Do you ex­pect any­thing from the re­cent mea­sures, in­clud­ing those emerg­ing from the high- level meet­ing chaired by the PM re­cently on man­u­fac­tur­ing? A. The High Level Com­mit­tee on Man­u­fac­tur­ing took sev­eral im­por­tant de­ci­sions to boost man­u­fac­tur­ing, in­clud­ing a new com­pet­i­tive­ness strat­egy for the tex­tiles sec­tor. Q. In the National Man­u­fac­tur­ing Pol­icy, the Govern­ment had laid down tar­gets to make man­u­fac­tur­ing “an engine of growth” for the econ­omy. Has there been any progress? A. There has been progress on the is­sue of ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion of busi­ness reg­u­la­tions. The states have been re­quested to iden­tify land banks for set­ting up of the National In­vest­ment and Man­u­fac­tur­ing Zones and to ini­ti­ate the process of ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion and sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of state- level busi­ness reg­u­la­tions. Q. Do in­vestors still have faith in In­dia’s po­ten­tial? A. In­dia con­tin­ues to be an at­trac­tive in­vest­ment des­ti­na­tion. If we look at the data, we see a 25 per cent in­crease in FDI in­flows in the first quar­ter of this fis­cal year. The re­cently an­nounced raise in the FDI cap in var­i­ous sec­tors and clar­i­fi­ca­tions in FDI in multi- brand re­tail have sent a strong mes­sage to the in­vestors. With re­gard to the National Man­u­fac­tur­ing Pol­icy, Rus­sia, Ja­pan, USA, Ger­many and UK have shown in­ter­est in the im­ple­men­ta­tion. A work­ing group on the pol­icy has been set up with Ja­pan to dis­cuss co­op­er­a­tion in its im­ple­men­ta­tion. Q. What is the re­sponse that you re­ceived from in­vestors on your re­cent tour to the US? A. There was a dis­cernible in­ter­est dur­ing our tours. In­vest­ment round­tables are at­tended by top CEOs. FDI- re­lated clar­i­fi­ca­tions are be­ing sought in a struc­tured for­mat and we have re­ceived queries from key in­vestors. Most of their ap­pre­hen­sions are due to the shrill neg­a­tive dis­course that has been gen­er­ated due to par­ti­san pol­i­tics here. Q. There is a vol­ley of im­ports, mostly from China. How can do­mes­tic in­dus­try be made more com­pet­i­tive? A. We have iden­ti­fied ar­eas where th­ese im­bal­ances have to be ad­dressed. Work­ing groups are de­lib­er­at­ing on the ways of ad­dress­ing the con­cerns of both the sides.

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