Cabinet clears plethora of proposals to put economy on the fast track

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 22, 2018 Published on November 18, 2015

Power Minister Piyush Goyal

The Narendra Modi government on Wednesday took a slew of decisions to give a leg up to exporters, the sugar industry and the lagging infrastructure sector by offering various incentives — a move that is expected to prop up business sentiments.

Simultaneously, to generate resources and help the government inch closer to its disinvestment target for the fiscal year, the Cabinet also approved a 10 per cent stake sale in public sector Coal India Ltd.

Bilateral assistance

Besides, it has also empowered the Finance Minister and the External Affairs Minister to accept bilateral assistance from any country and not restrict it to those having ties with India. This is with the approval of the Prime Minister.

Briefing mediapersons after the Cabinet meeting, the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy, Piyush Goyal said the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has given its nod to a ₹2,700-crore interest subsidy scheme for exporters from small and labour-intensive sectors.

The scheme — to be made available to all small and medium enterprises and 419 items across 25 sectors that are employment generating — would allow them to get loans from banks at 3 per cent lower interest and is expected to boost exports, which have been falling over the last 11 months.

The interest subvention scheme, now renamed the interest-equalisation scheme, will be available for three years in a row after which it will be evaluated.

The CCEA also gave the green signal to a new scheme for the sugar sector that will provide subsidy directly to cane farmers and cut down on cane payment arrears. “In order to further reduce arrears and support cane growers, the government has come up with a World Trade Organization-compliant scheme,” Goyal said.

Under the scheme, a production subsidy will be given directly to cane growers resulting in a benefit of about ₹1,147 crore annually. “The scheme will help liquidate some of the sugar stocks and meet the export target,” Goyal added.

Infra projects

For the infrastructure sector, to speed up building of highways and clear 34 stuck projects, the government authorised NHAI to pay compensation to road developers in case of delays not attributable to them. The CCEA also empowered the Road Transport and Highways Ministry to approve projects with civil construction costs up to ₹1,000 crore.

It also approved several railway projects costing about ₹8,000 crore spread across Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Bihar. These projects will be implemented over seven years, said Minister Goyal.

The Cabinet also approved a 10 per cent stake sale in public sector Coal India Ltd, a move that could fetch the government an estimated ₹21,000 crore. It also approved the issue of an IPO for Cochin Shipyard Ltd.

Published on November 18, 2015
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