Against the backdrop of the demonetisation decision, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said cleaning the system from black money and corruption was “very high” on his agenda and India is currently witnessing an “economic transformation.”
“India is currently witnessing an economic transformation... We are now moving towards a digital and cashless economy,” he said while addressing the ‘Economic Times Asian Business Leaders Conclave 2016’ in Kuala Lumpur via video conferencing along with his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak.
“Presently, cleaning the system from black money and corruption is very high on my agenda,” Modi said, following the November 8 decision to scrap notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination.
“This comes closely after digitisation and introduction of GST. The outcomes of our efforts are visible from India’s global rankings on various indicators. India’s rank has gone up in World Bank’s Doing Business Report. We are fast closing the gap between business practices in India and the best in the world,” he added.
He said the economic process in India was being geared towards activities which were vital for generating employment or self-employment opportunities.
The Prime Minister told the gathering that a number of steps had been taken to attract greater FDI and listed the various steps taken in this direction.
He also mentioned that amendment to the Constitution to pave the way for Goods and Services Tax (GST), which will overhaul the indirect tax system in India, had been cleared by the Parliament and “this is expected to be implemented in 2017”.
“We welcome those who are not in India... India is not only a good destination. It’s always a good decision to be in India,” Modi said. “We have opened up new sectors for FDI and enhanced caps for existing sectors,” he said, adding the government’s concerted efforts on major FDI policy reforms continue and conditions for investments have been simplified.
The total FDI inflows in the last two and a half years touched $130 billion. Highest ever FDI inflows were received during the last year. The increase in FDI equity inflows in the last two financial years was 52 per cent as compared to previous two financial years. Sources and sectors in which FDI is coming have also greatly diversified,” Modi said.
“The positive change in policy, regulatory and investment environment in India is recognised by both domestic and foreign investors,” he added.
Referring to "Make in India" which celebrated 2nd anniversary this year, the Prime Minister said the initiative is aimed at making the country a global hub of manufacturing, design and innovation.
"India is currently buzzing with entrepreneurial activity like never before... We have now become the 6th largest manufacturing country in the world," he said.
"Our efforts to ensure ease of doing business in India have been comprehensive and wide ranging, including legislative and structural," Modi said.
He said the government has also "rationalised greatly" the licensing regime and launched "single window interfaces" for registering a business, export-import clearances and labour compliance.
"The outcomes of our efforts are visible from India's global rankings on various indicators," he said.
"We have adopted a comprehensive National Intellectual Property Rights policy to lay the future roadmap for intellectual property," he said about an issue which has been a major concern among the foreign investors.
Modi said startups are the next big economic force in India and are "no less than a revolution".
"Building futuristic infrastructure is the biggest task at our hand. We are developing a pentagon of industrial corridors across India," the Prime Minister said.
He said there is immense focus on removing the logistics constraints and roads, railways, ports are being upgraded across the country.
"This is a time for integration...at the level of economy also, we are among the most open and integrated economies," he said.
Underlining that the 21st century is that of Asia, the Prime Minister said despite unfavourable and uncertain global economic environment, the growth prospects of Asian region remain bright.
"Asia is where there are hands to work, homes to consume and heads have the humility to learn," Modi said.
He said the leaders of ASEAN countries have led efforts for better integration among the countries of the region.
India's initiatives including a Project Development Fund and Line of Credit have given a huge fillip to India-ASEAN cooperation, he added.
Talking about India-Malaysia relations, he said close ties are "integral to the success of our Act East Policy".
He said the "timeless ties" between India and Malaysia are reinforced by the presence of a large Indian community in that country.
"A recent symbol of our historic links is Torana Gate in the heart of Kuala Lumpur which connects two great nations and two great cultures," Modi said.
He also praised Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, saying under his leadership, Malaysia is moving towards its goal of achieving developed country status by 2020.
(With PTI inputs)