Business Standard

Congress promises radical, forward looking policies

Congress promises to augment the total length of national highways and increase the pace of construction

Business Standard 

Congress President Rahul Gandhi, senior party leaders Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh release party's manifesto for Lok Sabha polls 2019 | PTI

initiated liberalisation in 1991 with a new Industrial Policy. Taking note of the changes in the global economy and the Indian economy, promises another radical, forward-looking Industrial Policy. The Government mouths empty slogans. Its record is dismal in terms of the growth rate of Industry sector GVA and gross capital formation in the Industry sector. promises to reverse these disappointing trends.

Congress promises to increase the share of India’s manufacturing sector from the current level of 16 per cent of GDP to 25 per cent within a period of 5 years and to make India a manufacturing hub for the world. Congress believes that anything that can be made in another country can be made in India. Congress promises that it will adopt policies, formulate rules, levy taxes and reward entrepreneurship that will make India a renowned centre of manufacturing.

We will announce policies that will help India retain its leading position in the manufacture of engineering goods, petroleum products, gems & jewellery, drugs & pharmaceuticals, garments & textiles and chemicals.

We will announce policies that will help India gain a leadership position in steel, metals, cement, machinery, electronic goods, computer hardware, automobiles etc.

Congress will announce a ‘Make for the World’ policy under which foreign and Indian companies will be invited to invest in ‘Exclusive Export-only Zones’, manufacture and export their entire production, pay no indirect taxes and pay a low rate of corporate tax.

As the UPA did from 2004 to 2014, we will make a determined effort to revive stalled projects and bring locked-up capital to use and generate employment.

We will promote the manufacture and export of India’s traditional products like handloom products and handicrafts that employ lakhs of persons. 08. Congress will acquire patents, create a patent pool and make advanced technologies available to small and medium businesses.

Controls have crept into the system in the name of regulations. Congress promises to do a quick review of the rules and regulations made by the Government in the last 5 years and repeal as many of them as are necessary to free industry and business from the ‘Control Raj.’

In the last 5 years, tax authorities have been given extraordinary discretionary powers that have throttled industry and come to be described as ‘tax terrorism.’ Investigative agencies have misinterpreted the laws and have instilled fear among businesspersons. Congress will review these discretionary powers and arbitrary actions and take steps to allow industry and business to function with a large degree of freedom.

We recognise the need to create lakhs of low-skilled jobs in order to absorb young men and women who have completed only a few years in school. Congress will launch 2 major programmes to be implemented through Gram Sabhas and urban local bodies that will create 1 crore jobs: a. Repair and restoration of water bodies (‘Water Bodies Restoration Mission’); and b. Regeneration and afforestation of wasteland and degraded land (‘Wasteland Regeneration Mission’).

Congress will require businesses employing 100 persons or more to start an apprenticeship programme, impart skills, pay a stipend, and employ from among the trained apprentices whenever a job is created or becomes vacant in that business. We will amend The Companies (Corporate Social Responsibility Policy) Rules, 2014 to include ‘Apprenticeship’ as an additional activity.

We will identify new kinds of jobs that will emerge with the advent of new technologies and will offer opportunities to youth to acquire the skill-sets necessary for these jobs.

A basic weakness of the Indian economy has been infrastructure. Flawed design, inefficient execution, insufficient capacity and poor maintenance of infrastructure have dragged India’s growth rate down. Congress promises to address these deficiencies with a combination of planning, technology, quality and accountability. All available models and instrumentalities will be used to build infrastructure—public sector, private sector and public-private partnership. Roads, railway and electricity are among vital infrastructure. They are also crucial public goods.

Cities, Urbanisation and Urban Policy India is fast urbanising. Nearly 34 per cent of our population lives in towns and cities and the number is growing. As in the rest of the world, India’s cities can become engines of growth. The Smart Cities Mission of the government, which replaced the successful JNNURM, was a colossal failure and a waste of money with no visible results.

Congress promises to augment the total length of national highways and increase the pace of construction. The focus will be on improved design and quality, maintenance and accountability. Congress promises to massively modernise all outdated railway infrastructure. New projects will be implemented in accordance with the best international standards of design and quality. Road construction and railways can be built using private capital and capacity. Congress will use sector-specific, tried and tested PPP models to increase the supply of these vital public goods.

Congress promises to review, re-formulate and implement the policy on spectrum and on exploration and extraction of natural resources. The policy will address issues of allocation, capital investment, enhanced production, transparency, efficiency, risk-reward concerns, environmental sustainability, inter-generational equity, accountability, competition and appropriate sectoral regulation.

We will formulate a policy on Clean Energy in existing power plants that use fossil fuels and promote Green Energy to enhance the share of solar and wind energy in the total supply of energy.

Edited excerpts from the 2019 manifesto of the Congress I, April 5, New Delhi

First Published: Sat, April 06 2019. 20:05 IST