You are here: Home » Current Affairs » News » National
Business Standard

Modi proposes SAARC travel card, special purpose facility

Speaks of his vision to create cross-border industrial corridors, common power grids, greater air, road and rail network within the region

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi

In his maiden Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Summit speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested some far-reaching measures to integrate the region.

From proposing a “Saarc business traveller card” to creation of a “special purpose facility” for infrastructure projects, Modi seemed to say that India was ready to play a big brother's role.

He also spoke about a vision to create cross-border industrial corridors and common electricity grids, emphasising greater air, road and rail connectivity.

“Infrastructure is my greatest priority in India. And, I also want to set up a Special Purpose Facility in India to finance infrastructure projects in our region that enhances our connectivity and trade…India will now give a business visa for three to five years for Saarc. Let's make it even easier for our businesses through a Saarc business traveller card,” Modi said, at the Summit in Kathmandu on Wednesday.

He also spoke about creating a level-playing field to boost trade within the region. Urging the need to remove the “cynicism and scepticism” generally associated with Saarc, he said a lot had to be done to build a stronger grouping.

Highlighting the need to establish “direct routes of trade”, the PM said India had to take a lead in creating and enhancing regional integration. “I know that many of your goods, too, have to do a “parikrama” of India to reach their destinations. Just think of what we are doing to our consumers — and to our environment! We must shrink the distance between our producers and consumers and use the most direct routes of trade,” he said.

Asking investors in the region to attract investment from India, he said this would enhance business and generate jobs for youth. “I look to a future when your companies can easily raise funds in India for investments at home; and, when we have cross-border industrial corridors, so that we can take advantage of the natural synergies and connected lives in our border states,” he said.

To boost trade, he said, it was important to reduce tariffs. “A good neighbourhood is a universal aspiration.”

He also spoke about treating electricity as a commodity.

“India will fully support these initiatives in the region. We should also think with ambition to use solar energy and micro grids to quickly provide clean power to villages across the region.”

Hailing Modi’s remarks, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) said his proposals — on a Saarc business traveller card, special purpose facility for financing regional infrastructure, and cross-border industrial corridors — were “innovative and very pertinent”.

India’s exports to South Asian countries were $17.5 billion in 2013-14, about 5.6 per cent of our total exports. Our imports from these countries reached $2.5 billion in 2013-14, about 0.5 per cent of India’s total imports, said CII.

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Thu, November 27 2014. 00:44 IST