Minister of Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu seemed relaxed at the Outlook Business #leadingedge2019 conference. He started on a lighter vein, about speaking after a “dear friend” and Minister of Railways and Coal Piyush Goyal.
Goyal is known to be articulate and forceful in his speeches. Prabhu said, “Normally, when we have a proposal of resolution, he (Goyal) speaks the most and I have to only say, ‘I second it’… We (both) are chartered accountants. So normally, we don’t do re-audit.”
He then called the audience’s attention to two key topics for the evening — Outlook Business and the ‘business outlook’. “I can say, without exaggeration, that business outlook for India is extremely positive and is going to improve as we go along.”
“After 10 years, India would be clearly in the top league,” he said. The immediate target is a $5 trillion economy, he said. “$3 trillion of the $5 trillion will come from services, which is 60%, for which we have already identified 12 champion sectors. We have set aside a cabinet approved Rs.50 billion to revamp those sectors.”
Agriculture is to contribute $1 trillion towards the $5 trillion target, and for this they have devised the agriculture export policy with a target of $100 billion, he said. They have already identified specific clusters for specific farm produce. As an example, he cited oranges from Nagpur, adding, sotto voce, “Nagpur should not only known for Nitin Gadkari and Devendra Fadnavis”.
The country is also set to grow on the back of better air connectivity, he said. Prabhu gave an update on the government’s another popular scheme – UDAN III, to improve regional connectivity. “We have already completed the bidding,” he said. “We’ll be connecting something like 254 new centres, which is unimaginable. We are also connecting water fronts. So now the planes will land not only on airports, but even on water ports. So they will be landing on water domes, and they can actually take off from there. We have already announced the policy, regulations and now the bids have come in. So faraway areas, be it river fronts, be it sea fronts, be it water bodies, they all can use air connectivity in a significant way.”
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