Shri M Venkaiah Naidu, Minister of Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Information & Broadcasting has said that populist measures in the past negatively impacted the investment in core sectors thereby negating the creation of long term assets and skills upgradation. As a consequence, the focus on freebees neglected investment in core sectors. The Government was currently focussing on development of infrastructure and social sector based on the mantra that Growth and Welfare were integrally linked. The Minister stated this while addressing the legislators at the workshop focusing on the “Role of Infrastructure in States” at National Institute of Public Finance and Policy here today.
Shri Naidu mentioned that under the leadership of the Hon’ble Prime Minister, Skill development, Self-Employment, Inclusive Development, Economic Inclusion had become the focus areas for the Government. The Mantra of the Government today focussed on Reform, Perform and Transform. In this context, he stated that the first major Push to infrastructure and connectivity was given by Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee who had brought connectivity revolution in the country and that the current Government has taken it forward.
Elaborating further, the Minister highlighted the initiatives taken by the Government to boost the regional connectivity by setting up 50 new airports over the next three years and by investing over Rs 7,000 crore in this financial year for better connectivity in the north-eastern region. In the context of ease of availability of capital in infrastructure sector, the Minister mentioned that Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had permitted companies in infrastructure sector to raise External Commercial Borrowings with certain conditions for borrowing under the automatic route. Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had allowed Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPI) to invest in units of real estate investment trusts (REITs), infrastructure investment trusts (InvITs), and category III alternative investment funds (AIFs). Detailing about the Government’s budgetary allocation in the sector, he said that the Government of India had made a record allocation Rs 221,246 crore for several infrastructure projects in Union Budget 2016-17, which was expected to provide significant boost to Indian infrastructure sector. The recent initiative of highway projects worth US$ 93 billion, which include government flagship National Highways Building Project (NHDP) with total investment of US$ 45 billion over next three years would also boost the highways sector.
Regarding De- Monetisation, the Minister mentioned that it has been the biggest reform since independence which broke the backbone of arms smugglers, drug traffickers, counterfeit currency & Hawala operators and our neighbour which was aiding, abetting and funding black money in the country. Demonetization would help economic growth of the country and would bring down the inflation.
Shri Naidu while mentioning the current status of Smart City Mission, mentioned that the Smart City Plan was running ahead of schedule. 60 of the 100 cities were on course of implementation already. 82 projects were already under implementation by the first batch of 20 smart cities and another 113 projects would soon start.
Speaking on the welfare schemes brought out by the Government, the Minister said that for the first time various social security programmes, including Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, Atal Pension Yojana, and Direct Transfer Benefit were launched that would empower and improve the lives of the poor, women, farmers, workers and youth, while focusing on the transformation of villages into vibrant growth centres.