India’s shared heritage with East Asia calls for deeper economic bonding: Modi

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Just as the historical bonds and shared heritage bring people of Southeast Asian societies together, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his `Act East’ policy aimed at bonding them economically as well.

He said the Act East policy puts this region at the centre of India’s engagement, adding that India has exceptionally good political and people-to-people relations with each and every country in the ASEAN region, Modi said at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit at Manila.

”We wish to bring our economic and business relations up to the same level.”

”Just as in India, here in the Philippines also, the government wants to see change, bring about inclusive growth, develop infrastructure, and fight corruption. No wonder so many of our top IT companies have invested here. They are creating thousands of jobs and promoting the Philippines services sector world-wide,” he said.

He said there is a lot that India and the Philippines share in common both are pluralistic societies and vibrant democracies, some of the fastest growth among world economies and large, young and aspiring populations that are innovative and enterprising.

He also noted that like India, the Philippines is also a services power house and the Philippines government also wants to see change, bring about inclusive growth, develop infrastructure, and fight corruption.

The task of transforming India is proceeding on an unprecedented scale, Modi said, adding that his government  is working day and night to ensure good governance, which includes easy, effective and transparent governance.

Citing examples he said his government started open auction for natural resources, including telecom spectrum, coal mines and other minerals and even private radio channels. This has contributed an additional $75 billion in revenue to the exchequer.

He said India is now leveraging technology to enhance responsibility and reduce discretion and corruption. ”We are using our Unique ID system in financial transactions and taxation for this purpose and the results are already visible.”

These steps, coupled with demonetisation of high value notes has resulted in formalising a large part of our economy, he said, adding that the number of new tax payers filing income tax returns has more than doubled. Digital transactions have increased by 34 per cent in one year, as the country marches towards a less-cash economy. We have used technology to reach out to people.

He said an online citizen engagement platform, MyGov has harnessed ideas, suggestions and inputs on policies and programmes from 2 million pro-active citizens, even as the emphasis on minimum government and maximum governance helped repeal 1200 outdated laws in three years.

He said a new frame-work called PRAGATI (Pro-active Governance and Timely Implemntation) enables him to review project implemntation and redress public grievances through video conferencing with officials across the country.

Also, with new laws and institutions for bankruptcy and insolvency as well as IPR and arbitration now in place,  and new environment clearance system in place incorporating a company is now just a one day affair. ”We have simplified industrial licensing, and introduced online application process for environmental and forest clearances. All these have made opening a new business very easy. The results are obvious.”

India has climbed 30 places in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index this year. It is the biggest jump by any country this year and a recognition of India’s long term reform trajectory.

And, the world is taking notice:

He said most sectors of the Indian economy are now open for FDI. More than 90 per cent FDI sectors are on automatic approval route. India has emerged as a front-runner in attracting foreign direct investment. The country received 67 per cent more FDI in this year.

Combined with the new taxation reform of implementing the highly complex migration to a uniform Goods and Services Tax for the whole country has made the country a formidable destination for investment, Modi stated.

He invited East Asian investors to tap vast opportunities that India offers, especially under the `Make in India’ initiative. ”Through this initiative, we are committed to transform India as a major player in the global value chain. We want to make India a global manufacturing hub. At the same time, we want our youth to be job creators; not just job seekers,” he said adding that the launched drives called Start up India and Stand up India, are part of this.

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