New Delhi: Taking a swipe at the Congress-led UPA government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said his government has not allowed the rate of price rise to cross 6 per cent as opposed to the double digit inflation during previous government.
Delivering his third Independence Day address from the ramparts of Red Fort, Modi backed the 4 per cent inflation target, within a range of 2 percentage points either way, set for the next five years under the monetary policy framework agreement with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
“It is true that during the time of previous government, inflation rate had crossed 10 per cent. Our continuous efforts have ensured that inflation rate does not rise above 6 per cent,” he said.
He attributed the spike in vegetable prices to two consecutive droughts that impacted supplies but said efforts have been made to contain it. “I will continue to make efforts to ensure that the food plate of poor is not affected (by inflation),” he said.
On the spike in prices of pulses this year, he said sowing of pulses this year has risen by 1.5 times and with good monsoon and efforts like Minimum Support Price and bonus to farmers as well as increasing availability will make things better.
While monsoon has been good this year, excess rainfall has caused problems at some places, he said, adding the government was fully committed to helping such states.
Modi said unlike past governments, he has stayed away from populist measures and instead relied on empowerment.
The Prime Minister said efforts by his government have led to 99.5 per cent of past dues of sugarcane farmers in Uttar Pradesh being cleared and 95 per cent of crop being sold this season being already paid for.
Also, record urea production has meant that black marketing of the crop nutrient is a thing of past, he said, adding that farmers are being given crop insurance cover on minimum premium.
Godown capacity of 15 lakh tonnes has been constructed to store crops and emphasis is being laid on all food processing and agro-based industries to raise farm incomes.
Hundred per cent FDI has been permitted in food processing. “These steps will help realise the target of doubling farmers’ income by 2022,” he said.
“I have resisted from resorting to populist schemes,” Modi said.
On initiatives taken by his government, he said income tax refund which used to take years and often be obtained by paying bribes is now online and is automatically transferred to the bank account within 1 to 3 weeks.
Registration of companies, which used to take six months is now being done in 24 hours. “In last July, more than 900 registration of companies has been done,” he said.
Government’s emphasis on non-polluting renewable energy has meant that generation from wind has gone up by 40 per cent in last one year and that from solar by as much as 16 per cent.
“This is not an incremental change but a high jump. We want to increase to quantum jump,” he said, adding, laying of transmission lines, to transport electricity from production sites to consumption centres, has been expedited to 50,000 km per year from previous 30,000-35,000 km.
Of the 18,000 unelectrified villages, power has reached 10,000, he said citing the example of Nagla Padam village which is a three hours drive from the national capital and has been without electricity since Independence.
To conserve power, the government has taken up distribution of LED bulbs on a massive scale and price of the same has been brought down to Rs 50 from Rs 350 previously, he said adding 13 crore bulbs have been distributed so far.
The Prime Minister said 20,000 megawatt of electricity worth Rs 1.25 lakh crore can be saved annually after the target of distributing 77 crore LED bulbs is achieved. This, he said, would prevent global warming and protect the environment.
As against 14 crore people being issued cooking gas LPG connections in 60 years, about 4 crore new LPG connections have been released in 60 weeks, he said.
Under the Ujjwala Yojana, nearly 50 lakh new LPG connections have been issued to the poor free of cost in last 100 days and at this pace the target of 5 crore connections would be achieved much before the scheduled 3 year period.
Stressing that 70 crore people now have Aadhaar cards, he said 21 crore people have been connected with the financial inclusion scheme with opening of bank accounts under Jan Dhan Yojana.
Modi said international institutions like World Bank, IMF, World Economic Forum and credit rating agencies have all appreciated India’s growth story and the efforts made to ease rules and regulations.
India’s ranking on ease of doing business scale has gone up and it is the most favourable destination for FDI. Its GDP growth rate has left behind big nations, he said, adding, the country has climbed 19 ranks on the logistics and infrastructure index.
He said to reduce farm cost, water pumps powered by solar energy are being installed and added that 77,000 solar pumps have so far been distributed.
Stressing that the governance is a continuous process, he said shortcomings of schemes and projects of previous regimes are being addressed to have them up and running.
As many as 118 projects costing Rs 7.5 lakh crore which have been languishing for past many years have been restarted, he said, adding, he personally monitors progress through monthly meetings.
Government’s efficiency drive has brought back telecom giant BSNL and Shipping Corp of India (SCI) to profits again and the move to give post office a payment bank license will help expand banking services to all corners of the country, he said.
Modi said renegotiating a long-term gas import deal with Qatar has helped the nation save Rs 20,000 crore.