PM-led panel announces a slew of measures

Developing a civilian aircraft is among the various steps that the Government will take to boost manufacturing in India.

This was decided at a high-level meeting of the Committee on Manufacturing, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday.

“If we have to grow at 8-9 per cent in the future, this has to come through sustained growth in manufacturing, particularly labour-intensive manufacturing,” Singh said in his address to the meeting.

A 70-100-seater aircraft is proposed to be developed initially.

The idea is to house the development and production in a special purpose vehicle, which would be created for this purpose.

The design capabilities of the National Aerospace Laboratories, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and other institutions in the country would be utilised for this.

The Government could also allow joint ventures with the private sector and foreign firms for developing the aircraft.

Efforts will be made to leverage the offsets that are available in the defence sector for building critical domestic capabilities in high-precision manufacturing and avionics.

A high-level steering group under V. Krishnamurthy, Chairman, National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council, would work out the modalities of this programme.

It was also decided to build 300 million tonnes of steel capacity by the middle of the next decade through special purpose vehicles of Central Public Sector Enterprises with States.

The current steel capacity is around 89 million tonnes, which is likely to touch 120 million tonnes.

The Steel Ministry will prepare a roadmap with time lines for this in eight weeks.

The meeting also decided that quick decisions would be taken to enhance textile exports by 30 per cent this year. In the last fiscal, textiles exports stood at about $34 billion. An Inter Ministerial Group (IMG) under the Textiles Secretary will work out the action plan in four weeks.

The Prime Minister listed automobiles, auto-components, pharmaceuticals, metals and cement as manufacturing sectors that had done well over the last 20 years.

However, “We have not been able to leverage our strengths both in traditional industries and in emerging sectors to the extent we could have. We hardly have any manufacturing capabilities in electronics and telecommunications,” he said.

Singh said production was at the lower end of the value chain. “Our exports consist of raw materials and primary goods and our imports consist overwhelmingly of manufacturing,” he added.

(This article was published on July 9, 2013)
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