• Economy on fast-track; need to boost infra, cut logistic costs: Gadkari

    In an interview to Bloomberg TV India, Union Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari crystal gazes at what was missing in the earlier regimes and what has been achieved by the Modi government in the last two years

    He also outlines the challenges and the road ahead for the fastest-growing major emerging economy. Starting with a stark slowdown, the NDA government has been able to pull up GDP growth to 7.5 per cent even as the global economy remains feeble and the neighbouring China is in a crisis. The Modi government is decisive, it has a vision and has fast-tracked decision making process, and this has changed the scenario, he says. Excerpts:

    Two years have passed. . Before we get into some specific things, I want your big picture assessment. Two years down the line, are you satisfied with the overall performance of the government as well as your Ministry?

    I feel that this is the first time a government is with a vision and a government has a commitment for gaon, gareeb mazdoor and kisaan (village, poor, worker and farmer). And that reflects in the policies. This is a decisive government. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a vision. The government has a fast-track decision-making process and definitely the scenario has changed.

    You talk about the coal sector, now we have a surplus there. You talk about the power sector, now we have a surplus. Now you talk about road sector. At a time when the government took charge, road construction was only 2 km per day. Today, it has reached 25 km per day. In the port sector and in inland water sector, things are progressing. In case of agriculture sector, there is no black marketing of urea.

    There is no lathi charge on farmers because of urea. From last year, urea production is in surplus. So a lot of things are changing.

    You have given a time period of 60 years to Congress and we are just completing two years. It will not be appropriate to compare our two years with the 60 years of the Congress. I am confident that we have basically changed the track of the economy.

    Our economy is now on a fast track. We are going to increase employment potential. These will result in increase in GDP.

    When Manmohan Singh was Prime Minister, the GDP growth rate was 4.5 per cent in FY13 and 4.7 per cent in FY14. Today, the GDP growth is over 7.5 per cent. Agriculture growth has also increased. Still, we are facing a lot of problems. In the last two years, there were a lot of problems, challenges, and some negative things were there. But still our government has succeeded in giving a good vision to the country and we are moving fast.

    Infrastructure building in different fields, Digital India, Make in India, Start-up India — these are the new visions. Innovation, entrepreneurship, technology and research — these are the things we are focusing on. The way in which the Prime Minister visited different parts of the world, he is recognised as a world leader.

    There is a lot of respect for the country and for the Prime Minister in the whole world. There are great achievements.

    We have improved the relations with our neighbouring countries — Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. We have solved the land dispute issue with Bangladesh. But still there are many challenges.

    You are not only a Union Minister, but also have been the BJP president. And now that the Congress seems to have been restricted to just a few states, what changes, as far as the political discourse in the Parliament, do you perceive?

    Although the Bankruptcy Bill has been passed, what about some of the pending reforms? Is the climate likely to change

    Do you feel the Congress will continue to remain the way it was? Do you expect an improvement in relation with the Congress and other parties on the floor of the Parliament?

    Poverty and unemployment are two very important issues for the country. I sincerely feel that these are still the issues only because of the wrong economic policies, bad and corrupt governance and the visionless leadership of the Congress party.

    I have serious reservation about the economic policies created during the Congress rule. Now we are facing drought. No drinking water is available in villages. There is no water available for farmers. But the Congress government purchased aircrafts worth ?70, 000 crore. I never understood what the priority was.

    When there were a lot of private players who were ready to invest in the aviation industry, what was the need for the government to invest ?70,000 crore in purchasing aircraft? This is a wrong economic policy.

    The country needed a development-oriented government, a transparent government, a corruption-free government and a government with a vision for development.

    Our government has these qualities. There is no charge of corruption against our government. That’s why the economy is changing. But still there are challenges.

    World economy is under recession now. China is facing economic crisis. In such a scenario, it is difficult for us to work in our country also. We have to increase our exports, we have to increase investments and foreign investments across sectors. These are the challenges before us. But I always have faith.

    There are some who convert problems into opportunities and there are some people who convert opportunities into problems. But our government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is confident that we can convert problems into opportunities and we can make India socially and economically strong.

    I want to request you to tell us about water-bone transport. Since India is a mainland country we continue to get stuck at red lights and we forget that there is no red light in rivers or seas. In the future what is the plan?

    You are absolutely correct. This sector was totally neglected by the previous government. In China, 47 per cent of passenger goods traffic is on water. In Korea and Japan, it is 43 per cent and 44 per cent, respectively. In European countries — France, Germany, Italy and the UK — it is more than 40 per cent. And in India it is only 3.5 per cent. In the last two years, it has come to 6 per cent. Unfortunately, the successive governments have never given attention on water-based and coastal traffic.

    Now, going by road cost ?1.55 per km, going by rail it is ?1.00 and going by water is just 20 paisa. The logistic cost in our country is 18 per cent. In China, it is 8 per cent. In European countries it is 12 per cent. So we have to reduce logistics cost.

    I am giving you an example which pains me. For taking any material from Mumbai to London or Mumbai to Dubai is cheaper and easier than taking any material from Mumbai to Delhi, which is more costly and complicated. So we have to change the decision.

    Basically the most important thing in the policy of our government is to reduce the logistic cost from 18 per cent to 12 per cent. That is the reason why we are giving highest priorities to ports. Sonny Milano Womens Jersey

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