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255 stalled projects with Rs 10 lakh crore investment to be fast-tracked: Cabinet Secretary
The government has identified 255 stalled projects, involving an investment of Rs 10 lakh crore and initiated the process of unclogging the projects that are brought before the Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI). This was announced by Ajit Kumar Seth, Cabinet Secretary, while initiating a discussion amongst a panel of secretaries on 'India on the Move' on the eve of 86th Annual General Meeting of industry body Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
Ajit Kumar Seth said the CCI was going the whole hog to ensure that the stalled projects in public and private sectors take off by expediting clearances and creating conditions conducive to execution of such projects. The CCI has already created a portal for resolution of 287 projects that are now poised to take off to stimulate investments in the economy and enable India move on higher growth path. The 12th plan period envisages public and private investments to the tune of Rs 55 lakh crore, of which 50% is expected to be contributed by the private sector.

The Cabinet Secretary said that not only have procedures been simplified for attracting FDI in retail, telecom, pharma and other sectors, but also for mergers and acquisitions to enable India absorb investments from overseas.

Seth said the India growth story was alive and kicking. "True growth has suffered a slowdown but the country's fundamentals are sound and we need to overcome the challenges to return to a high growth path." While agreeing that there was a lot of 'noise' following the decision-making process, he said, "Indeed, there is a lot of activity and this not necessarily pulling us back. We shouldn't discourage dissent and debate so long as our objectives are clear."

Secretary in Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Saurabh Chandra, in his observations highlighted that poorer perception has been created within the country towards its policies to promote industrialization and develop growth though it remained positive in the eyes of foreign investors which has resulted in attracting fresh foreign capital in telecom, civil aviation and energy sectors.

The objective of the government was to ensure growth for which savings and investment rates needed to be brought back at 36 per cent and 38 per cent, respectively, so that Indian economy is able to return to an average 8 per cent growth rate by end of 12th plan period.

Concurring with the remarks of the Cabinet Secretary, Vivek Rae, Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, said that there was no shortage of feedback on policy matters. In fact, such feedback had rendered policy making so much more robust. He said the decision to hike gas prices was taken as early as June this year. The announcement now has the potential to transform the oil and gas landscape of the country.

Referring to India's growth aspirations, Rae said not many country are growing at 5% like India. "Surely this is not good enough and we need to grow at 10% for the next 25-30 years to banish poverty from the country." The challenge before the country is to motivate the people to invest in financial instruments not merely in physical assets, he added.

Sujata Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in her remarks, stated that India's growth and development story was better at the ground level that what was perceived. It must be remembered, she said, that India is a developing country and the reality was that "we are in the middle of an enterprise of a nation of 1.2 billion working towards improving the standards of living of the people.

Responding to a question on the India-US spat on the treatment meted out to the Indian diplomat in New York, she said, the issue was about diplomatic courtesy. "We expect our diplomats to be treated just the way we extend courtesies to diplomats in India," she said and added that India had shown spine in addressing all foreign policy matters since independence.

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