FDI norms to be eased further, other economic reforms in pipeline: Goyal

Piyush Goyal that the consumption is expected to steeply rise in the next 3-4 months, given the record levels of agricultural output and rising sale of tractors
The government is looking to further ease the foreign direct investment (FDI) norms with investments being allowed in certain sectors, which continue to have constraints, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said on Saturday. It will also soon come out with a new industrial policy and forest policy.

Speaking at the India Global Week 2020 Summit, Goyal said that some reforms in the economic policy were being considered as 'significant items were on the table'. "We are looking at further reforms in the mining sector. Also, we are looking to opening up foreign direct investment (FDI)  in certain sectors where there still are some constraints, foreign investment will be permitted," Goyal said. 

"We are looking at the banking sector and capital market reform, so the agenda is vast and we are open to new ideas", Goyal added. "Further work on improving the ease of doing business are also ongoing with the ministry working on simplifying domestic approvals and beaureacratic processes", he said.

Back in early-2019, the government had decided to return to the drawing board on the proposed industrial policy, despite announcing about two years back that the policy framework could be overhauled. In the meantime, the government has continued to refer to an initial 14-page discussion paper on the proposed policy — released in August 2017 — as the draft. The ministry had then announced that the final draft will be put out by January 2018. The new policy is expected to tie in existing government initiatives and serve as a focal point for various industry-wise policies.

“It will absorb the 2011 national manufacturing policy and focus on technological issues of Industry 4.0, apart from furthering the government’s push of the Digital India initiative,” a senior official from the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) said.

Economic recovery

"While the Covid-19 pandemic had thrown a 'spanner in the works', the timeline of reforms remains firm", the minister said. This was supported by resiliency in the economy and a fast pace of recovery, he added.

Goyal said the railways were moving commodities at a faster pace. The transportation of fertilizers, coal, food grains, milk, and petroleum products, among other goods, has now increased to 92 per cent of what they were a year ago, on a weekly basis. Similarly, electricity consumption and receipts from the goods and services tax have reached 90 per cent levels of the usual, he said. He said that the consumption is expected to steeply rise in the next 3-4 months, given the record levels of agricultural output and rising sale of tractors.

Goyal also stressed that the government had offered to begin trade talks with both the United Kingdom and the European Union after the Brexit exercise was over. "New Delhi remains committed to secure early harvest trade packages with both before work on a full preferential trade agreement can happen. India can be a lucrative market for Britain given the widespread import of scotch whiskey and other commodities, Goyal said. However, arguing that the ball rests in their court as of now, Goyal said India is open to sitting down for talks by Monday morning if they respond soon.

Last year, the government relaxed the rules for single-brand retail, more than seven years after the foreign investment cap was removed for the segment to attract marquee foreign brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Ikea, and others into the country.

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