Days after the Union Budget announced an allocation of Rs 1,014.09 crore towards the revival of air connectivity and aviation infrastructure in the region and with days to go before three states in the region go to the polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said India’s growth story would further pick up speed only if there was all-round development of the Northeast.
“From Imphal to Guwahati, Kolkata to Patna, eastern India should emerge as the new energy centre of the country. This is our vision, our approach,” Modi said, inaugurating the two-day ‘Global Investors’ Summit’ in Guwahati.
Stressing on the importance of the Northeast in the Centre’s ‘Act East Policy’, he said, “We have created the Act East Policy and the Northeast is at the heart of it… The Act East Policy requires increased people-to-people contact, trade ties and relations with countries to the east of India, particularly ASEAN countries.”
The PM said that the tag-line of the investors’ summit — ‘Advantage Assam: India’s Expressway to ASEAN’ – was not just a statement but a holistic vision that coincides with India celebrating 25 years of partnership with ASEAN. “It was only recently that we had the ASEAN-India Summit celebrating 25 years of our partnership,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister pointed out that Assam ranked first among Northeastern states in the World Bank’s latest ‘Ease of Doing Business’ report and that with further improvement, the state would soon emerge as one of the most sought after states for industrial investment.
“With the Assam government’s new IT policy, new tourism policy and new sports policy, Guwahati must be developed as India’s business hub for ASEAN,” Modi said.
The prime minister said India is today the most preferred investment destination in the world, with Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows at a record $ 60 billion in the last fiscal. Highlighting the country’s “improved credit rating and low inflation rate”, he said, “The world sees India today as an emerging power house for economic growth,” he said.
Among those who attended the inaugural function were Bhutan Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay, Tata Sons chief N Chandrasekaran, Reliance Industries CMD Mukesh Ambani, SpiceJet chairman Ajay Singh, McLeod Russel CMD Aditya Khaitan, and a host of Union ministers, including Suresh Prabhu, Dharmendra Pradhan, Jitendra Singh, KJ Alphons, Kiren Rijiju and Rajen Gohain. Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh and Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu were also present.
Talking about the recent announcements in the Budget, he said 45-50 crore people would benefit from the Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme. He also said the government’s current focus is on infrastructure investment and next year it would invest about Rs 6 lakh crore in this sector.
“This year we aim to complete more than 9,000 km of national highways. We will develop 35,000 km of roads with an investment of Rs 5.35 lakh crore under the ‘Bharatmala’ project,” he said, adding the Railways would make an investment of Rs 1.48 lakh crore in 2018-19.
The Prime Minister said development of the Micro, Small and Medium Entreprises sector is a priority for the government. “In this year’s Budget, we gave a big relief to MSMEs by reducing the rate of income tax to 25 per cent on companies reporting a turnover of up to Rs 250 crore,” he said.
(With PTI inputs)