On increasing FDI flows, the President said that the UPA Government has already taken steps to remove `outdated restrictions'.

Our Bureau

New Delhi, Feb. 16

THE President, Mr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, on Thursday said that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government would continue to accord top priority to development of infrastructure while policy initiatives on foreign direct investment (FDI) would keep the `national interest' in mind.

In his address to the joint session of Parliament, Mr Kalam said a comprehensive civil aviation policy is on the anvil, while efforts would be on to attract massive investments in ports, roads, power, telecom and railway.

Mr Kalam also underscored the need for greater private initiative and reduction of Government's role in areas where it can afford to stand aside. "Good governance today implies more efficient use of public finances in sectors which Government must invest and less Government intervention in areas where individual initiative can achieve more," he said.

He said that the Government plans to launch a 10-year National Manufacturing Initiative to step up investments. Besides labour-intensive sectors such as textiles and garments, leather and leather goods and food processing, the focus would be on "dynamic services sector" including software, outsourcing, tourism, education and healthcare.

On increasing FDI flows, the President said that the UPA Government has already taken steps to remove `outdated restrictions'. "We will create a policy framework that attracts FDI keeping in view our overall national interest. My Government has taken appropriate decisions to rationalise the FDI policy with a view to removing unnecessary hurdles and outdated restrictions," Mr Kalam said.

He said that private initiatives should be encouraged in developing infrastructure facilities. "Government is committed to developing world-class infrastructure. While the public sector will continue to play an important role, it is necessary to create a policy and regulatory environment that attracts long-term private investment in infrastructure," the President said.

He said that Government was also keen to create world-class airports. He said that an action plan to develop highways involving investments of Rs 1,75,000-crore over seven years is under way. Another Rs 20,000-crore would be aside to develop two dedicated high capacity freight corridors - the eastern corridor from Ludhiana to Sonanagar and the Western corridors from Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust to Dadri.

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 17, 2006)
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