India gives push to privatisation in detailing fourth tranche of Rs. 20 lakh crore economic package
New Delhi/IBNS: Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's fourth press conference on Rs. 20 lakh crore economic package, dubbed as a package to build "Aatmanirbhar Bharat" or "Self-reliant India", was largely concentrated with the Narendra Modi government's push to privatisation in multiple sectors through reforms.
Sitharaman began her fourth press briefing on Saturday with the announcement of the removal of government's monopoly in coal mining.
In an attempt to increase the participation of private sector in coal mining, Sitharaman announced the "government monopoly in coal mining" will be removed to move towards "commercial mining in coal sector with revenue sharing".
The government will invest Rs. 50,000 crore in its mission to establish a liberalised regime in coal sector.
In a bid to attract private investments which India badly requires now, Sitharaman announced "seamless composite exploration cum mining cum production" through which 500 mining blocks will be offered.
"Left over or unused minerals will be up for sale," said the FM and added, "The process of developing mineral index is going on."
In the defence sector, India has increased Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) limits from the existing 49 per cent to 74 per cent besides taking the decision to import High-Tech defence equipments.
Apart from these, Sitharaman announced the corporatisation of Ordinance Factory but cautioned, "Corporatisation does not mean privatisation."
Highlighting the measures taken by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in managing the economic crisis caused by Covid-19 and the lockdown, Sitharaman said, "Hope people can get their living and get money in their hands. I am not indicating that I have done everything. We (government) are trying to help people so that they can get money in their hands."
Sitharaman said six more airports will be auctioned on PPP mode and for that the government will make Rs. 2,300 crore down payment to the Airports Authority of India (AAI).
"Only 60 per cent of Airspace will be avalable freely," she said in another announcement.
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The power distribution companies of Union Territories will be privatised, as the FM said, in line with the tariff policy.
The government will spend Rs. 8,100 of Rs. 20 lakh crores for viability gap funding in social infra projects.
However, the Centre and the states each will fund 30 per cent of the viability gap funding.
To provide a "level-playing field" to the private sector, Sitharaman said the private players will be allowed to use Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) facilities and other relevant assets to improve their capacities.
Future projects for planetory exploration, outer space travel etc will now be open for the private sector while liberal geo-spatial data policy will provide remote-sensing data to tech-entrepreneurs.
"We want private players to be co-travellers with us," said Sitharaman and added, "Private sector has been given good access so that both govt and private sector can work for Aatmanirbhar Bharat."
The government will establish research reactor in PPP mode for production of medical isotopes to promote welfare of humanity through affordable treatment for cancer and other diseases.
(Image Credit: BJP Twitter)