Listing out ways to get the country out of post-COVID economic slowdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday (February 20) suggested utilising the full potential of the farm sector, increase ‘ease of business’ and encourage private sector to invite foreign investment.
“The agriculture sector was one segment which registered growth in exports even when the COVID pandemic was at its peak. The sector has a lot of untapped potential. Our farm output should not get wastage while we focus on storage and food processing,” said Modi at the 6th Niti Aayog meeting.
The meeting was attended by chief ministers and Lieutenant Governors of states and Union Territories.
On importing edible oil, Modi said, “We call ourselves an agrarian economy, but even today our country imports edible oil worth ₹65,000 – ₹70,000 crore. This should stop. This money that we spend abroad can actually benefit our farmers. But for that to happen our planning process needs to change accordingly.”
He stressed on the need to export processed foods rather than raw foods to increase profits. Modi said reforms are very important for our farmers to get the necessary economic resources, better infrastructure and modern technology.
Modi said that a holistic approach has been adopted over the years, from agriculture to animal husbandry to fisheries. He said, as a result, the country’s agricultural exports have increased significantly even during Corona. Prime Minister said, ease of living and ease of doing business will go hand in hand. Laws and regulations have to be amended for brighter future of the nation.
On improving Centre-state cooperation, Modi said, “Policy framework and cooperation between Centre and state is also very important. Coastal states are a fine example. Exports from blue economy have unlimited opportunities. Why shouldn’t our coastal states take extra initiatives for the same?”
Support to private sector
The Prime Minister spoke of giving opportunities to the private sector to take the Aatmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) mission ahead.
“During the COVID period, we have seen that the Centre and states can work together. The success of our federal structure helped improve India’s reputation in the world,” he said.
Modi said our task is to implement “competitive, cooperative federalism” in states as well as among districts.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee did not attend the meeting.
This is not the first time that Mamata Banerjee skipped a Niti Aayog meeting. She has called it a “fruitless” exercise and criticized Niti Ayog for its failure to support plans of states, news agency Press of India reported.
“For India’s citizens, we must try and better Ease of Living. It will help us achieve the aspirations of Indians and make their lives better,” Modi said.
On empowering the poor and downtrodden, Modi read out the achievements of his government. “Opening of bank accounts, increase in vaccination and health facilities, free electricity and free cooking gas have given strength to the poor and needy,” Modi said.
The country has made up its mind that it wants to progress rapidly and doesn’t want to lose time. The youth is playing a major role in setting the mood of the nation,” PM Modi said.
The governing council of the Niti Aayog meets regularly and its first meeting took place on February 8, 2015. The council did not meet last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.