Amid coronavirus crisis, PM deliberates on sector-wise measures to boost growth

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COVID-19: PM Narendra Modi deliberated on how the labour force can propel India's growth and reviewed the performance of the aviation and power sectors.
COVID-19, PM Narendra Modi

New Delhi, May 1 (PTI) Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday deliberated on how the labour force can propel India’s growth and reviewed the performance of the aviation and power sectors, with a focus on reducing costs and making them more efficient.

“We discussed ways through which this (labour) sector can power India’s growth,” the prime minister tweeted.

He said deliberations were held on labour welfare during the meeting.

The migrant labourers are one of the most hard hit segments during the coronavirus-induced lockdown as they had been out of jobs.

The meeting came in a day when trains were run to carry them to their home states.

Reviewing the power sector, the prime minister underlined its importance in propelling the economy.

The need for an effective enforcement of contracts to attract private investment was also discussed.

At the review of the civil aviation sector, it was decided that the country’s air space should be effectively used in a manner that the flying time for travellers is reduced and airlines save costs.

The meet also reviewed the strategies that could help make India’s civil aviation sector more efficient.

“For generation of more revenue as well as to bring in more efficiency at the airports, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has been asked to expedite the process of handing over of six more airports on PPP basis by commencing the tender process within three months,” a statement said.

The civil aviation sector meeting, which was attended by Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri among others, also reviewed the e-DGCA project, aimed at bringing in more transparency in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s office and helping all stakeholders by reducing the processing time for various licences and permissions.

“It was also decided that all reform initiatives taken by the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the organisations under it should proceed in a time-bound manner,” the statement said.

Later, in a tweet, Modi said aspects relating to the aviation sector were reviewed at the meeting.

“This includes ways to make airports more efficient and integrating the sector with latest technological advancements,” he said.

The civil aviation sector has been severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced governments around the world to impose restrictions on the movement of people and virtually shut flight operations.

Reviewing the power sector, Modi asked officials to work towards ensuring round-the-clock supply of electricity to all consumers.

At the meeting on the power sector and the impact of COVID-19 on it, the prime minister also discussed various long-term reforms for enhancing the sustainability, resilience, and efficiency of the sector.

Measures to improve the viability of distribution companies, including tariff rationalisation and a timely release of subsidies, along with an improved governance, were discussed as well, a statement said.

Taking to Twitter, the prime minister said, “The focus is on enhancing sustainability, resilience and improving efficiency.”

The statement said the discussions included measures regarding ease of doing business, propagation of renewables, flexibility in the supply of coal, the role of public-private partnerships and boosting investment in the power sector.

The meeting was attended by the home minister, finance minister and Minister of State for Power, Skill and New and Renewable Energy R K Singh, the statement said.

The prime minister also reviewed the education sector in which special emphasis was given on the use of technology in the education sector and enhancing learning and adapting by the use of technology such as on-line classes, education portal and class-wise broadcast on dedicated education channels.

Several educational institutions have used on-line tools to help students with their syllabus during the coronavirus-induced lockdown which has now been extended for two more weeks beginning May 4.

Modi had held a series of meetings on Thursday to discuss strategies to attract foreign investment, promote local manufacturing and boost the economy that has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown to curb its spread.

He had reviewed the state of investments, the defence and aerospace sector, and the mine and minerals sector.

The government had first imposed a 21-day nationwide lockdown beginning March 25 and later extended it till May 3. The lockdown shut businesses, stopped air and rail travel, and restricted the movement of people and goods.

The near-complete halt in economic activity may result in the country seeing a contraction in the GDP growth rate in the April-June quarter, some analysts have predicted.

In late March, the government had announced a Rs 1.7-lakh crore stimulus package comprising free foodgrains and cooking gas to the poor and cash doles to poor women and elderly people.

A second package, aimed at industries, particularly the small and medium enterprises that have been hit hard by the lockdown, is said to be in the works and is likely to be announced shortly.

The lockdown was extended by two weeks on Friday. The second phase of the lockdown was otherwise to end on May 3.

Source: PTI

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