New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday asserted his government will rationalise and target subsidies towards the poor for their welfare and strive for reforms that positively impact the people and transform their lives. He also said India's economic efforts should also have a positive global impact.
"I am not arguing that all subsidies are good. My point is that there cannot be any ideological position on such matters. We have to be pragmatic. We have to eliminate bad subsidies, whether or not they are called subsidies," he said in his address at the Economic Times Global Business Summit here. "But some subsidies may be necessary to protect the poor and the needy and give them a fair chance to succeed. Hence my aim is not to eliminate subsidies but to rationalise and target them," he said. Stressing that reforms in a country should be linked to people's welfare, he said: "True reforms are those which results in transformation in the lives of citizens. My goal is reform to transform. Biggest beneficiary of any reform should be the poor." Holding that creating new opportunities for citizens to progress is crucial for the growth of the nation, he said: "New opportunities are like oxygen to the aspirational citizens." Modi said that reforms will be fruitful only if they succeed in impacting the lives of citizens for the better. "We have to increase the quality of life of the common citizen and even more so, the quality of life of the poor. If a government is progressive, and runs an honest and efficient administration, the biggest beneficiaries are the poor. Poor governance hurts the poor more than it hurts others," he said. "I believe in the politics of empowerment. I believe in empowering the people to improve their own lives. We need to value enterprise and hard work, not wealth. Creating opportunities for cities and towns to grow is very crucial. Urban areas are an engine of growth," he added. Modi noted foreign direct investment (FDI) to India has increased by 39 percent in the last 18 months even while falling globally. "The FDI to India increased by 39 percent in the last 18 months, when global FDI has fallen," he said noting that at present, the global economy is going through a period of uncertainty. Saying that "no country can be alone" in the globalised world today, he said: "India's policies must be such that they make a positive contribution to the rest of the world. For the last four quarters, India has been the fastest growing large economy in the world," he said. Modi also noted that protecting the planet from climate change is "one of the most important tasks for this generation". "We are committed to reducing the emission intensity of our GDP by 33 percent by 2030 even while growing at a fast pace," he added. Listing the government's achievements, he said: "India's highest ever urea fertiliser production was achieved in 2015. India's highest ever production of ethanol as blended fuel, benefiting sugar cane farmers, was in 2015. the highest number of new cooking gas connections to the rural poor was achieved in 2015. "India's highest ever output of coal was achieved in 2015. Shipping Corporation of India which made a loss of Rs.275 crore in 2013-14 made a profit of Rs.201 crore in 2014-15." The prime minister also cited the benefits of the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme of cash transfers in rationalisation of subsidies and weeding out illegal cooking gas connections. "(I) was pleasantly surprised to see a noteworthy reduction in leakage, simply by eliminating those who were double counted and ineligible," he said.