Budget 2023-24, in a way, is growing on nine years of implementation of some of the finest public service programmes, says Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal. In an interview with businessline, Goyal explains the nitti-gritties and what the Budget means for the domestic industry. Excerpts:
Can you help us understand the rationale behind the Customs duty rejig on certain items?
I must compliment the Finance Ministry because they have gone into a great level of detail while assessing the Customs duties. It is not as if vested interests ask for something and it gets done. The effort has been to see item by item where we need to promote domestic manufacturing, where we have capacities which are lying unutilised and which can help us give more jobs and economic activity. The industry helps us understand which sectors we can be competitive in; and there are a few sectors where we are not competitive. In those sectors, imports will continue. Also a lot of capital goods have been given encouragement to come in duty-free right now.
The effort is to ensure that our domestic manufacturing ability can have a quality impact and we can align ourselves with world class qualities. Goods produced in India can have no more two markets — Indian market and export market. India has to change the mindset of quality culture. It has to start preparing itself to make one quality goods.
The Economic Survey mentioned how the global climate is not really conducive for exports and growth can be flat in the next fiscal. So, where do you think the push will come for exports in this Budget?
Well, we’ll have to look at it sectorally. Clearly, the international situation is challenging. Despite that we continue to be at about 8-9 per cent growth (till now) in merchandise exports in the current year. This is phenomenal considering that global trade is growing barely 1 per cent. We continue to have almost a 20 per cent growth in services, which is a big credit to our talented young boys and girls, and particularly, our IT sector.
The Budget also reflects that tourism is another area where this government’s focus is giving us rich dividends. Many of you may be aware that tourism provides the maximum number of jobs for every rupee invested. And you saw the focus on tourism being presented in the Budget today also. As many as 50 tourist spots are going to be made truly world class and focus will be to upgrade those locations.
This Budget in a way is growing on nine years of implementation of some of the finest public service programmes and how those can help us meet the aspirations of a new India. The Gati Shakti Mission is a shining example.
Are you satisfied with the provisions for Gati Shakti in the Budget?
Our Finance Minister has approved ₹75,000 crore for 100 critical last mile connectivity projects (in the overall ₹10-lakh crore), which will help us in that small little bit which is left out and because of which lakhs of crore in other infrastructure is sub optimally used. So, if you create a 10 km last mile between a port and a national highway, port utilisation increases, National Highway transportation increases, speed of transport of goods increases and logistics cost comes down. That helps the economy, manufacturing, exports and the entire ecosystem. So, the PM’s thinking is always very holistic.
There has been a lot of buzz around PLI schemes’ extension but nothing was announced in this Budget.
Budget of ₹1,97,000 crore is already there for the scheme. As and when other PLI schemes get approved, the Cabinet is empowered to approve it. It doesn’t need to go through a budgetary process again. There are many in the pipeline which will come through the Cabinet.