Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said that the process of taking important economic decisions would continue. His assertion came at a time when the Opposition parties have been targeting the government over the GST and demonetisation moves.
Stating that 27 lakh “new citizens” had come to the “mainstream” after joining GST, the Prime Minister assured businessmen who were “afraid” that the government would not dig out old records. “I would like to assure them that no officer will be entitled to open their old accounts and probe them. The economy of the country is on the right track and direction,” he said on a day he launched a roll-on, roll-off ferry service in Ghogha.
The first phase of the ferry service is from Ghogha in Saurashtra to Dahej in south Gujarat. The Prime Minister spoke at both the ports.
He said that earlier trucks had to wait long hours at checkposts but with GST, the cost of transport had reduced and corruption at checkposts came down. “Now tell me, won’t those who looted money by thekedaari (contractors) be angry with Modi? Will they be angry with Modi or not?”
“We have established a business culture based on honesty. It is my experience that no businessman wants to cheat, but some laws and rules, officers and politicians push him towards it, make him helpless. We want to give him an environment of honesty,” he said.
Modi also spoke of starting an industrial revolution through a “blue economy”, where water would be the growth engine.
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He said his government would bring about a change in the work culture and vowed to bring “vikas (development)”. Blue economy was one of the facets of the Sagarmala project, said Modi, “which would generate about one crore job opportunities, according to an estimate”.
“Today our economy is burdened with 18 per cent cost of logistics. Our country spends more on shipping, which is why essentials, when they reach the poor, become expensive because of transportation costs. By maximising the use of water transport we can reduce this cost,” Modi said at Dahej.
“With economic progress, an ecosystem linked with the sea should be given impetus. This will happen with a blue revolution,” Modi said. He also criticised previous governments in Gujarat for “lacking this vision”.
He said what he had learnt in Gujarat “has come of use to me in Delhi. I am digging out files. Have dug out some nine lakh projects which were stuck for four decades, and are now being pushed”.
About demonetisation, he said, the move had ensured that “all the black money reached the banks and gave evidence of a unique Swachhata Abhiyan. And GST gave a new business culture to the country.”
He said the ferry service “will not only make the lives of crores of people of Saurashtra and south Gujarat easy but will also bring them closer. The journey, which used to take seven to eight hours, will be now done in an hour or so. It is said time is money. Nobody can extend the day to 25 hours. It is only the central government and the Gujarat government which can help you complete within one hour the journey which usually takes eight hours and thus can gift you seven hours.”
The Prime Minister said that successive governments in Gujarat since the 1960s had proposed the ferry service but only he could make it the reality.
“Scores of governments came and went…. But it seems it is only in my fortune to do all the good work,” he said.