“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
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.