Prasad seeks global investments in electronics sector

S RONENDRA SINGH SHISHIR SINHA THOMAS K THOMAS New Delhi | Updated on September 08, 2014

Ravi Shankar Prasad

Part of Centre’s efforts to boost domestic manufacturing and reduce imports

Communication and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is embarking on a global roadshow to get foreign investors to invest in manufacturing units of electronic products.

This is part of the Government’s efforts to lower India’s reliance on imports. While the erstwhile UPA Government had also tried to offer fiscal incentives, not many players came forward.

In an interview with BusinessLine, Prasad said the Narendra Modi Government is confident of getting investors in the manufacturing space over the next five years. “I am going out of my way as a Minister to invite them (global manufacturers),” he said.

“Democracy, demography and demand are certainly there and therefore, we will be able to make it,” Prasad added, when asked about comparisons with China.

Apart from chip manufacturing, the Government is pushing the electronics manufacturing agenda by doling out a lot of incentives.

Electronics clusters

Two approvals have been given for electronics clusters while eight have been given in-principle approval. “I am trying to finalise a date this month where the first cluster’s foundation will be laid in Madhya Pradesh,” Prasad said.

The Minister said the Government has made provisions in the Budget this year to give incentives to companies that set up manufacturing units. For instance, if a company manufactures set-top boxes in India, it will get a rebate on the education cess while importers will not get this benefit.

“I am very hopeful of attracting investors for three reasons — our technological base, availability of good technical people and thirdly, incentives, which the new Government has promised for ease of doing business. This Budget has given the biggest incentive to electronic manufacturing in India,” Prasad said.

Digital India

The other big focus area for Prasad is the Digital India project, aimed at providing citizen services online. “India is sitting on the cusp of a big digital revolution. Many Indians can’t read or write, but they know how to use technology,” Prasad said. The project includes the National Optical Fibre Network, which will connect 60,000 gram panchayats this year.

The other aspect is digital literacy under the ‘Disha’ project. The community service centres (CSCs) will become the hub of this programme.

“Today, we have 2.5 lakh CSCs working under the IT Ministry, in sync with the Telecom Ministry. They will become the centre of service delivery, for common things like land records, birth/caste certificates. Once these reach there, there will be compulsion on the local administration to go digital,” Prasad said.

Published on September 08, 2014

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