Citing demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as landmark decisions to create a ‘New India’, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday claimed that the country had displayed its capacity and ability to take difficult decisions, adding that each of these would largely benefit the economy in the future.
Addressing a gathering of business leaders at the World Food India 2017, Jaitley said as the economy grows it will impact the lifestyles of people and the food industry would be a major beneficiary this change.
“With a population and geographical size like ours, we have displayed the capacity and ability to take difficult decisions. We have an expanding middle class with enormous purchasing power, along with a silent revolution by an aspirational class. The decisions taken are sure to raise quality of life here,” Jaitley said.
Talking about the food processing sector in the country, Jaitley opined that in terms of investment, the sector was projected to witness a sea change in the near future. The current infrastructure is not sufficient to meet the future demand and there is need to add capacity as population would not only grow but also become richer with increase in GDP, Jaitley added.
“There is a need to consider this sector more seriously for both domestic and international investment. India is going through various changes, and is now more open to investment. In 2017, we are thinking of the developments that investors can witness in 2040-50. India is ensuring that investors who come from various parts of the world have a good experience and go back happy,” the finance minister said.
He also stressed on the need to increase farm productivity, improve storage facilities and spur food processing activity. As the recent report released by World Bank, rated India among top 100 in the “ease of doing business”, Jaitley said structural reforms implemented in the last three years have been duly recognised, with India being the only major country to feature on the ‘Structural reforms’ section of the report.
In terms of infrastructure development, Jaitley mentioned that the roadmap for economic development shows that we are moving towards enhanced connectivity, with over 250 highways being constructed, 35-40 new airports being built and 400 railway stations being modernised. Steps are also being taken to improve connectivity in rural India, along with making electricity available for all households by 2019.