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Reforms, e-payments, GST will power India’s growth, says Nitin Gadkari

LiveMint logoLiveMint 16-04-2017 A staff writer

New Delhi: India will be an economic powerhouse in the next 10 years, powered by administrative reforms, digital payments and the goods and services tax (GST), said road transport, ports and shipping minister Nitin Gadkari at Hindustan Ratna PSU awards-2017 held on Wednesday.

This comes in the backdrop of President Pranab Mukherjee’s assent to four GST supporting bills which paves the way for a roll-out of the unified tax regime from 1 July. Also, the National Democratic Alliance government has been pushing for premise-less and paperless banking through the BHIM-Aadhaar platform—a merchant interface linking the unique identification number to the Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) mobile application.

Efforts such as these will lead to the economy growing at a faster pace, Gadkari said while commending Hindustan’s initiative to felicitate public sector units.

India’s economy is set to grow at 7.4% in the current fiscal year against 7.1% in the previous year, on the back of pick-up in consumption demand and higher public investment, the Asian Development Bank said earlier this month.

A total of 27 state-run firms received awards at the event which was attended by petroleum and natural gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan, telecom minister Manoj Sinha and power, coal, mines and renewable energy minister Piyush Goyal.

India has 320 central public sector enterprises (CPSEs), with investments totaling around Rs11.62 trillion and a business worth of about Rs18.55 trillion. Apart from registering net profit of around Rs1.16 trillion in 2015-16, these CPSEs provide jobs to around 1.2 million employees.

Goyal said that PSUs work not only for a profit motive but also to fulfil a nation’s and its people’s needs. Citing the coal situation in the country, Goyal added that while a few years ago there was a coal shortage, the current situation is vastly improved—high production by PSUs meant there is no storage space for the fuel.

Record-high inventories of coal at power stations at the beginning of this fiscal year (after years of critically low supplies) are feeding electricity generation. Power generation utilities’ faith in the supply situation was strengthened, enabling them to cut inventory after the government rolled out a plan to double production to 1 billion tonnes in five years and to rationalise coal logistics.

The government has to ask them to cut production, Goyal said, adding that the abundance of coal meant that even if coal production is stopped for a month, there will be enough fuel available.

Speaking at the event, Dharmendra Pradhan commended PSUs for discharging their corporate social responsibilities (CSR) and urged the private sector to come forward and do the same.

CSR rules direct that companies with a net worth of Rs500 crore, a revenue of Rs1,000 crore or a net profit of Rs5 crore spend 2% of their average profit on social development activities, including education, health and women’s empowerment.

Manoj Sinha said that whenever the country has faced a natural tragedy or an emergency, its the PSUs who are the first to step up to help the people.

Since PSUs don’t bother about profit or loss while discharging their societal duties, they have a challenge as they simultaneously face stiff competition from the private sector, Sinha added.

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