Prime Minister's Council on TRADE & INDUSTRY

 

No. 260/31/C/25/98-E&S1
GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
(BHARAT SARKAR)
Prime Minister’s Office
(Pradhan Mantri Karyalaya)
New Delhi

Dated: 28.8.98

NOTIFICATION

Subject: Appointment of a Council on Trade and Industry.

Government has decided to constitute Council on Trade and Industry to the Prime Minister with the following composition:

Chairman:                   Prime Minister

Members:
                  Shri Ratan Tata
                                  Shri Mukesh Ambani
                                  Shri R.P. Goenka
                                  Shri P.K. Mittal
                                  Shri Kumar Mangalam Birla
                                  Shri Suresh Krishna (TVS Group)
                                  Shri N.R. Narayanamurthy
                                  (Information Technology Group)
                                  Shri Nusli Wadia
                                  Shri A.C. Muthiah
                                  Dr. Parvinder Singh
                                  (North Indian conglomerate)
                                   Principal Secretary to Prime Minister
Member-Secretary:   Secretary to Prime Minister

 

2. The Council on Trade & Industry will afford an opportunity for a policy dialogue on important economic issues relevant to Trade and Industry between the Prime Minister and Members of the Council.

3. The Council, with the permission of the Chairman, may co-opt or invite such person(s) as it deems appropriate, to participate in any of its sessions as special invitee(s).

4. The Council shall ordinarily meet once in three months on such dates as may be decided by its Chairman.

5. The Council will be covered within the definition/ explanation of High Level Commissions/ Committees as given in Cabinet Secretariat OM No. 105/1/1/75-CF dated 20.11.75.

6. The TA/DA of official members of the Council shall be borne by their parent Departments. The TA/DA of non-official members (as admissible to Grade-I officers of the highest category in Government of India) shall be paid by the PMO.

Sd/-
(N.K.Singh)
Secretary to PM

Copy to: All Members of the Council on Trade and Industry

Sd/-
(Ashok Saikia)
Joint Secretary to PM

Copy also for information to:

  1. Cabinet Secretary
  2. Secretary, Planning Commission
  3. Finance Secretary

 

Sd/-
(Ashok Saikia)
Joint Secretary to PM


No. 260/31/C/25/98-E&S1
GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
(BHARAT SARKAR)
Prime Minister’s Office
(Pradhan Mantri Karyalaya)
New Delhi

Dated: 18.9.98

NOTIFICATION

Subject: Appointment of Six Special Subject Groups.

On the basis of discussions held in the first meeting of the Prime Minister’s Council on Trade and Industry on 18.9.98, Government has decided to constitute six, Government has decided to constitute six Special Subject Groups in the nature of Task Force from among the members of the Council to consider and recommend implementable Action Plans in the following areas.

Areas

Composition of Groups

1.

Food & Agro-industries Management Policy

S/Shri Nusli Wadia – Convenor
Ratan Tata
A.C. Muthiah

2.

Infrastructure

Ratan Tata- Convenor
Mukesh Ambani
P.K. Mittal
Kumar Mangalam Birla

3.

Capital Markets and Financial Sector Initiatives

Mukesh Ambani- Convenor
R.P. Goenka

4.

Knowledge-based Industries

N.R.Narayanamurthy, Convenor
Parvinder Singh

5.

Service Industries

A.C. Muthiah- Convenor
Suresh Krishna

6.

Administrative and Legal Simplifications

Kumar Mangalam Birla – Convenor
Nusli Wadia
P.K. Mittal
Ratan Tata

2. The Groups will interact with the concerned Ministries/ Departments who will provide all necessary assistance and data to them.

3. The interaction of the Groups with the concerned Ministries/ Departments will be facilitated by the PMO.

4. The Groups may co-opt officials from concerned Ministries/ Departments and external experts as necessary.

5. The Groups will finalise their Action Plans within 30 days for the consideration of their reports in the subsequent deliberations of the Council.

6. The TA/ DA of officials members co-opted to the above Groups shall be borne by their parent Departments. The TA/ DA of non-officials members ( as admissible to Grade –1 officers of the highest category in Government of India) shall be paid by the PMO.

Sd/-
(N.K.Singh)
Secretary to PM

Copy to: All Members of the Council on Trade and Industry as per list attached:

Sd/-
(Jawed Usmani)
Joint Secretary to PM

Copy also for information to:

  1. Cabinet Secretary
  2. Member Secretary, Planning Commission
  3. All Secretaries to Government of India.

Sd/-
(Jawed Usmani)
Joint Secretary to PM


Press Note

The Prime Minister chaired the first meeting of the Council on Trade and Industry today.

After each member of the Council had made his observations on the crucial issues that need to be addressed in the short and the long term to enable India to progress on a high growth trajectory the following decisions were arrived at:

A)     Six Groups in the nature of Task Force will be constituted from among the
        members  of the Council to consider and recommend implementable Action
         Plans.

B)     The Groups will focus on the following six areas:

  1. Food and Agro-industries Management Policy

  2. Infrastructure

  3. Capital Markets and Financial Sector Initiatives

  4. Knowledge based Industries

  5. Service Industries

  6. Administrative & Legal Simplifications

C)     The Groups will interact with the concerned Ministries/ Departments with the
         concerned Ministries/ Departments who will provide all necessary assistance
         and data to them.

D)     The interaction of the Groups with the concerned Ministries/ Departments
         will be facilitated by the PMO.

E)     The Group may co-opt officials from concerned Ministries and external
          experts as necessary.

F)     The Groups will finalise their Action Plans within 30 days for the
          consideration of their reports in the subsequent deliberations of the Council.


PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE

Press Note

The Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee today announced two new initiatives designed to enhance interaction with Economists, Trade & Industry on important economic issues. These initiatives would be significant as part of Government’s effort to enhance awareness and refashion policy instruments for achieving its desired economic goals and impart momentum to the growth process.

2. The first initiative lies in creating Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council. A tradition has existed in the past where Prime Ministers sought the advice of eminent Economists from time to time which have enabled them a wider exposure on various facets of the economy. In the aforesaid context, the Prime Minister has decided to create an Economic Advisory Council under his Chairmanship which would enable him to have an interaction with eminent Economists from time to time on various facets of the economy. The members of the Council are as follows:

Prime Minister           -           Chairman

Members

1.  Dr. I.G. Patel
2.  Prof. P.N. Dhar
3.  Shri M.S. Ahluwalia
4.  Dr. Arjun Sengupta
5.  Shri Kirit Parekh
6.  Dr. Amresh Bagchi
7.  Shri Ashok Desai
8.  Shri G.V. Ramakrishna
9.  Shri Brajesh Mishra
     Principal Secretary to PM
10  Shri N.K. Singh
     Secretary to PM - Member Secretary

There are several Economists of international eminence but who are not residents in India. They would be requested to participate in any Special Session as a special invitee as considered appropriate.

3. The second initiative comprises of constituting a Prime Minister’s Council on Trade & Industry. The Prime Minister has been traditionally interacting with representatives of bodies like CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM and this process will continue. In addition to this, it is considered desirable for the Prime Minister to have an interaction with recognised corporate entities. It has been decided to constitute a Prime Minister'’ Council on Trade & Industry with the following member Ship:

Chairman:                  Prime Minister

Members:                  Shri Ratan Tata
                                Shri Mukesh Ambani
                                Shri R.P. Goenka
                                Shri P.K. Mittal
                                Shri Kumar Mangalam Birla
                                Shri Suresh Krishna (TVS Group)
                                Shri N.R. Narayanamurthy
                                (Information Technology Group)
                                Shri Nusli Wadia
                                Shri A.C. Muthiah
                                Dr. Parvinder Singh
                                (North Indian conglomerate)
                                Principal Secretary to Prime Minister
Member-Secretary:   Secretary to Prime Minister

The membership of this Group would be flexible and hold office on a rotational basis for enabling the Prime Minister to have an interaction with a wide spectrum of members from Trade and Industry.

The broad theme for the first meeting of the two Advisory Council would centre around on "What Ails the Indian Economy".

The above decision is part of a series of measures which the Prime Minister proposes to take as new Government initiatives to impart added impetus to policy changes in imparting greater confidence in realising its economic goals and objectives.


No. 260/31/C/25/98-E&S1
GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
(BHARAT SARKAR)
Prime Minister’s Office
(Pradhan Mantri Karyalaya)
New Delhi

Dated: 13.11.1999

NOTIFICATION

Subject: Appointment of a Council on Trade and Industry.

In supersession of notification of even number dated 28.8.1998, Government have decided to reconstitute the Prime Minister’s Council on Trade and Industry as follows:-

Chairman:                    Prime Minister

Members:                   Shri Ratan Tata
                                  Shri Mukesh Ambani
                                  Shri Sanjeev Goenka
                                  Shri Kumar Mangalam Birla
                                  Shri N. Srinivasan
                                  Shri N.R. Narayana Murthy
                                  Shri Nusli Wadia
                                  Shri A.C. Muthiah
                                  Shri Rajeev Chandrasekar
                                  Shri Gouri Prasad Goenka,
                                  President (designate), FICCI
                                  Shri Rahul Bajaj, President, CII
                                  Principal Secretary to Prime Minister
Member-Secretary:    Secretary to Prime Minister

2. The Council on Trade & Industry will afford an opportunity for a policy dialogue on important economic issues relevant to Trade and Industry between the Prime Minister and Members of the Council.

3. The Council, with the permission of the Chairman, may co-opt or invite such person(s) as it deems appropriate, to participate in any of its sessions as special invitee(s).

4. The Council shall ordinarily meet once in three months on such dates as may be decided by its Chairman.

5. The Council will be covered within the definition/ explanation of High Level Commissions/ Committees as given in Cabinet Secretariat OM No. 105/1/1/75-CF dated 20.11.75.

6. The TA/DA of official members of the Council shall be borne by their parent Departments. The TA/DA of non-official members (as admissible to Grade-I officers of the highest category in Government of India) shall be paid by the PMO.

Sd/-
(N.K.Singh)
Secretary to PM

Copy to: All Members of the Council on Trade and Industry

Sd/-
(Jawed Usmani)
Joint Secretary to PM

Copy also for information to:

  1. Cabinet Secretary
  2. Secretary, Planning Commission
  3. Finance Secretary

Sd/-
(Jawed Usmani)
Joint Secretary to PM


PRESS NOTE

The Prime Minister today reconstituted his Council on Trade and Industry.

This Council had been created in August, 1998. It had set up six Subject Groups in specific areas. These Subject Groups had submitted important recommendations in the areas of food and agro industries, capital markets and financial sector initiatives, knowledge based industries, infrastructure service industries, and administrative and legal simplifications. Many of the recommendations on these issues have been implemented by Government through last year’s Budget and other policy initiatives taken by the concerned Ministries.

The Prime Minister believes that close interaction between trade, industry and Government will continue to the realisation of its developmental objectives and this partnership should be strengthened. The Council on Trade and Industry provides an important opportunity for policy dialogue on economic issues between the Prime Ministers and the Members of the Council. The Council has been constituted keeping in view the diverse experience of its members in manufacturing, trade and services and also to give representation to apex organisations.

The Members of the reconstituted Council are Shri Ratan Tata, Shri Mukesh Ambani, Shri Sanjeev Goenka, Shri Kumar Mangalam Birla, Shri N. Srinivasan, Shri N.R. Narayana Murthy, Shri Nusli Wadia, Shri A.C. Muthiah, Shri Rajeev Chandrasekar, Shri Gouri Prasad Goenka, President- designate, FICCI, and Shri Rahul Bajaj, President, CII. Shri Brajesh Mishra, Principal Secretary to PM will also be a Member of the Council while Shri N.K. Singh, Secretary to Prime Minister will be the Member-Secretary of the Council.

The first meeting of the reconstituted Council will take place in December.


PRIME MINISTER’S SPEECH AT THE MEETING OF THE COUNCIOL ON TRADE AND INDUSTRY (11TH DECMEBER, 1999)

I welcome all of you to this first meeting of the reconstituted Council on Trade and Industry. This Council was created for promoting interaction between Government and Industry. To create partnership and trust. And to emphasise that the development imperatives of India require joint and concerted action by both Government and private sector.

These objectives are even more valid today than they were a year ago. We have so far held two meetings of the earlier Council. The pace was interrupted by political events leading to a General Election. With the return of political normalcy, I do hope it would be possible to meet more regularly than in the past.

In the earlier Council, we had received recommendations from the Specialised Subject Groups covering:

  1. Food & Agro Industries Management Policy.

  2. Infrastructure

  3. Capital Markets and Financial Sector Initiatives.

  4. Knowledge-based Industries.

  5. Service Industries; and

  6. Administrative and Legal Simplifications.

Some of the suggestions contained in these reports have been either implemented or are underway. However, it is important that the implementation of these recommendations receives high priority. With this objective, I am today reconstituting the "Implementation Review Committee" under the Finance Minister with Minister of Commerce and Industry, and Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission to take urgent steps for putting into action those recommendations which are considered worthy of acceptance. We hope that by the time we meet for the next meeting, we would have an updated status report on the implementation of recommendations arising out of the earlier reports.

Today I wish to make a couple of general observations and then to listen to your response.

First, every credible report suggests a strong recovery in the economy. The data for growth in a large number of manufacturing and services sectors would tend to confirm this. I would like to briefly hear from you whether you also are of this view. Are you comfortable with the pace of recovery as being both significant and sustainable? Are there are other steps necessary, even prior to the Budget, to sustain or accelerate this recovery process?

Second, the Address by the president to both Houses of Parliament represents the broad agenda of economic and social reforms of this Government. What is necessary is to ensure implementation. To some extent, this issue of implementation masks differences of approach and perceptions. It would be useful to consider how greater convergence and consensus can be achieved on the implementation process. And what more can we do to effect and enforce accountability particularly on issues where targets are easily attainable. In the light of your comments, I would certainly like to give careful consideration to the issue of Implementation and Accountability. This must become the hall mark for assessing the success of our reform strategy.

Third, in the Address of the President to Parliament, there are a number of areas of social concern, which cast obligations on and expect appropriate responses from private trade and industry. How do you propose to rise and respond to this challenge? This is also an area where much greater partnership is possible between Government and Industry.

Even while I await your comments on some of the observations I have just made, it would also be appropriate to give some thought for a few new themes on which the Council could undertake further work.

May I suggest that the new themes on which further work and ideas may be useful could comprise of:

  1. How to foster Good Governance in the private sector ?

  2. Policy framework for private investment in Education and Health.

  3. The Strategy for a reconvened WTO Ministerial meeting.

  4. How to get Disinvestment going?

  5. In truly unshackling Indian industry what are the subsisting regulations and procedures which need to go?

  6. How can India avoid the pitfalls of globalisation?

These themes require no explanation. If there is a general agreement, we can constitute Special Groups for enabling further concentrated work on these issues.

With these words, I would request you for your comments and suggestions.

Thank you.


No.260/3/C/3/99-E&S 1
Government of India
(Bharat Sarkar)
Prime Minister’s Office
(Pradhan Mantri Karyalaya)
New Delhi

Dated 14.12.1999

NOTIFICATION

Subject: Appointment of Special Subject Groups of the Prime Minister’s Council on Trade and Industry.

On the basis of discussions held at the meeting of the Prime Minister’s Council on Trade & Industry on 11.12.1999, Government have decided to constitute eight Special Subject Groups from among the Members of the Council to consider and recommend implementable action points in the following areas:-

(I)    Good Governance in the Private Sector:

(i)    Shri N.R. Narayana Murthy.

(ii)   Shri Kumar Mangalam Birla

(II)   Policy Framework for Private Investment in Education, Health
       and Rural  Development:

(i)    Shri Mukesh Ambani.

(ii)   Shri Kumar Mangalam Birla

(III)  Strategy for a reconvened WTO Ministerial Meeting:

(i)    Shri N. Srinivasan.

(ii)   Shri Rahul Bajaj.

(IV)  How to get Disinvestment going?

(i)    Shri G.P. Goenka

(ii)   Shri Rajeev Chandrasekar

(iii)  Shri Nusli Wadia

(V)    Review of Regulations and Procedures to unshackle Indian
        Industry/Recommendation of measures for reviving
        traditional industries:

(i)    Shri Nusli Wadia

(ii)   Shri Ratan Tata

(VI)   How can India avoid the pitfalls of Globalisation ?

(i)    Shri Rahul Bajaj.

(ii)   Shri Sanjeev Goenka

(VI)   Power Sector Reforms:

(i)    Shri G.P. Goenka.

(ii)   Shri A.C.Muthiah

(iii)  Shri Sanjeev Goenka

(VII)  Harnessing the Wealth and Talent of Indians Resident abroad
        for  Development:

(i)    Shri Mukesh Ambani.

2. The Groups will interact with the concerned Ministries/ Departments who will provide all necessary assistance and data to them. The interaction of the Groups with the concerned Ministries/ Departments will be facilitated by the PMO.

3. The Groups may co-opt officials from concerned Ministries/ Departments and external experts as necessary.

4. The Groups will finalise their Action Plans within 60 days for the consideration of their reports in the subsequent deliberations of the Council.

5. The TA/DA of official members co-opted to the above Groups shall be borne by their parent Departments. The TA/DA of non-official members (as admissible to Grade-1 officers of the highest category in Government of India) shall be paid by the PMO.

Sd/-
(N.K. Singh)
Secretary to PM

Copy to: All Members of the Council on Trade and Industry as per list attached.

Sd/-
(Jawed Usmani)
Joint Secretary to PM

Copy also for information to:

  1. Cabinet Secretary
  2. All Secretaries to Government of India

 

Sd/-
(Jawed Usmani)
Joint Secretary to PM


OPENING OBSERVATIONS OF THE PRIME MINISTER AT THE MEETING OF THE COUNCIL ON TRADE & INDUSTRY
(29TH APRIL, 2000)

I welcome you to the second meeting of the re-constituted Council on Trade & Industry. We meet at a time when the macro fundamentals of the economy appear to be strong from many angles. We ended the last fiscal year with a high growth rate of 5.9%. The manufacturing sector grew at the rate of 7% compared to 3.6% in the previous year which suggests a full fledged industrial recovery. Performance of the construction and infrastructure sectors was also very encouraging. Inflation remains low. Our foreign exchange reserves are at 35 billion US dollars with a stable exchange rate. Export performance has been robust compared to the last 3 years. The Reserve Bank projections released day before yesterday suggest that India may touch 6.5% to 7% GDP growth during the current fiscal year. I share their optimism.

2. Our international credibility is at an all time high with important trading partners seeking new investment opportunities in India. There is all round recognition that we truly have the potential to become a major power in the area of what is being described as the "New Economy". With an "Old Economy" becoming stronger and unlimited opportunities in the "New Economy", we have a new window of opportunity. We will pursue with policies which enable us to realise our full potential. These include fiscal consolidation, reforms of banks and financial institutions, a credible disinvestment programme and removing bottlenecks in infrastructure. Simultaneously, high priority will be accorded to building social infrastructure in health, education and rural development, particularly rural road connectivity, increasing agricultural productivity and addressing basic human needs.

3. The subjects on which the working groups had been constituted are both of immediate and medium term significance. I am pleased to note that six of these groups have submitted detailed and well researched reports with concrete action plans. I must compliment the convenors and members of these groups for their hard work and dedication with which these reports have been prepared. I now look forward to the presentation of the reports by the convenors of the groups.

Thank you.

******************


PRESS NOTE
[29th April, 2000]

The Prime Minister chaired a meeting of his Council on Trade and Industry today. The meeting was attended by leading industrialists. Shri Yashwant Sinha, Minister of Finance and Shri Murasoli Maran, Minister of Commerce & Industry also participated in the meeting. Senior officers of Government including the Principal Secretary to PM, the Cabinet Secretary and the Secretary to PM were also present. The meeting was convened to consider reports prepared by six Special Subject Groups set up by the Council at its last meeting held in December, 1999.

2. In his opening observations to the Council, the Prime Minister briefly dwelt upon the strong fundamentals of the economy, including the satisfactory rate of growth of 5.9% in the last fiscal year, and the possibility of the growth rate going up to 6.5%-7% in the current year. He also mentioned about inflation remaining well under control, the satisfactory Balance of Payments position and the creditable improvement in export performance. India’s international credibility is at an all time high with important trading partners seeking new investment opportunities here. The Prime Minister observed that there is all round recognition that we truly have the potential to become a major power in the area of what is being described as the "New Economy". He stressed that policies which enable us to realise our full potential, will be pursued. These include fiscal consolidation, reform of banks and financial institutions, a credible disinvestment programme and removing bottlenecks in infrastructure. Simultaneously, high priority will be accorded to building social infrastructure in education, health and rural development, particularly rural road connectivity, increasing agricultural productivity and addressing basic human needs.

3. The Council then heard Shri G.P. Goenka, Shri Rajeev Chandrashekhar & Shri Nusli Wadia who had put together a report entitled "How to get Disinvestment going ?". The salient recommendations made by this Group, inter alia, include the following :-

  • The management and responsibility of the entire disinvestment process should exclusively be with the Disinvestment Ministry (DM).

  • Stronger PSUs must enter the market first.

  • The proceeds of disinvestment should not go into the Consolidated Fund of India. They should be used to retire the public debt or for a genuine NRF.

  • Explain to citizens the benefits of disinvestment – more expenditure on education, health care and infrastructure, higher growth, more employment, lower interest rates, lower inflation.

  • All non-strategic government companies should eventually be brought down to 26% government equity.

4. Shri G.P. Goenka, Shri A.C. Muthiah and Shri Sanjiv Goenka presented their report on "Power Sector Reforms". The main suggestions put forward by the Group are as follows:-

  • Recognize that reforms must begin with transmission and distribution, especially distribution, not with generation.

  • For agriculture, increase tariffs over a pre-announced three-year period to Rs. 0.50, Rs. 0.75 and Rs. 1.10 per unit.

  • Take subsidization away from SEBs and move it to State budgets. Target subsidies only at the poor, subject to a threshold monthly consumption of electricity.

  • Break up monolithic SEBs into four corporations to look after thermal generation, hydel generation, transmission and distribution.

  • Privatize distribution through management contracts, joint ventures or full-fledged licenses. This should be done through competitive bidding with transparent criteria.

  • Make regulatory commissions independent and autonomous, subject to judicial review.

5. Shri Nusli Wadia and Shri Ratan Tata had prepared a report on "Revival of Traditional Industries", such as textiles, chemicals, tea, sugar etc. In its presentation, the Group focussed on the following important recommendations:-

Textiles

  • Remove structural anomalies: have uniform structure of fiscal levies across all sectors, except handlooms, and make applicable industrial power tariff rates to all sectors of the textile industry.

  • Remove knitting and garments sectors from SSI purview to improve scale economies and competitiveness.

  • Simplify procedures for relocation/ closure of unviable units, and development of real estate in urban areas.

  • Set up a "Brand Equity Fund" for promotion of the "Made in India" label.

  • Develop legal and industry knowledge infrastructure to respond to anti-dumping measures and other new non-tariff barriers. Initiate an industry- government partnership for this.

Chemicals

  • Allow offset of CENVAT on fuels to improve cost competitiveness.

  • Strengthen anti-dumping mechanism by developing legal and industry knowledge infrastructure to take prompt action on petitions.

  • Encourage scientific knowledge based activities by exempting patented products from all central and local taxes, and upgrading the patent office.

  • Facilitate industry restructuring by providing fiscal incentives for modernisation and allowing closure or relocation.

Tea

  • Have a single point central income tax and share tax revenue with states.

  • Improve labour productivity: link wage revisions to productivity increases, withdraw norms on employment in tea plantations.

  • Invest in brand building to obtain a higher value in overseas markets.

Sugar

  • Decontrol sugar sales fully by removing levy obligation and allow free movement.

  • Set up a futures market for sugar.

  • Allow use of the Sugar Development Fund for modernising existing units.

6. Shri Mukesh Ambani and Shri Kumarmangalam Birla were entrusted with the task of preparing recommendations for policy reforms in education. The salient recommendations made by the Group include the following:-

  • Make primary education compulsory and free. Secondary education should be compulsory as well. There is no getting away from enforcing the Constitutional commitment to compulsory education for children up to the age of fourteen years.

  • Leverage the vast and growing resources in information and communication technologies to bring about smart schools that integrate computers, networks and content.

  • Focus strongly on literacy, primary and secondary education and leave higher and professional education to the private sector.

  • Establish an Education Development Fund for literacy and primary education with donations to this fund exempted from income tax.

  • Progressively reduce the funding for universities and make them adopt the route of self-sufficiency. Concurrently, a credit market for private finance of cost of higher education should be developed.

7. Shri N. Srinivasan and Shri Rahul Bajaj presented their report on the "Strategy for a Reconvened WTO Ministerial Meeting", wherein they focussed on the following main suggestions:-

  • Re-assert the relevance of ‘special and differential’ treatment for developing countries.

  • In case of industrial tariffs, demand a substantial reduction of tariffs by industrialised countries on labour intensive and low technology manufacturers where we have a comparative advantage.

  • Even while ensuring food security and protecting the interest of our farmers, seek greater market access for our exportable agricultural products.

  • Ensure that the sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) measures do not hurt our agricultural exports and establish an effective, credible and unified domestic mechanism for SPS certification.

  • Demand suitable changes in the Anti-Dumping Agreement.

8. The Council then heard Shri Rahul Bajaj and Shri Sanjiv Goenka who had made recommendations on "Avoiding the Pitfalls of Globalisation". The main suggestions of this Group are as follows:-

  • Complete domestic economic reforms (such as agricultural reform, de-centralisation, administrative, legal and institutional reforms and reforms of the labour laws).

  • Ensure macro-economic stability and elimination of revenue deficit reduction of government borrowing.

  • Focus on three things: Disinvestment, privatisation and commercialisation of assets, mainly to retire public debt.

  • Give due attention to the issue of bankruptcy of industrial companies.

  • Broad-base the capital market to attract more Indian investors (institutional as well as individual). Institute safeguards against 'financial panics' by strengthening the SEBI.

9. The Group consisting of Shri Mukesh Ambani and Shri Kumarmangalam Birla had also prepared a report on a "Policy Framework for Reforms in Health Care". The main recommendations of the Group included the following:-

  • Enlist private providers to deliver preventive care.

  • Prepare and implement a detailed plan for use of information technology in health care delivery, referral, training and administration.

  • Levy additional tax on areas which will increase the health care costs, such as use of tobacco and liquor, and dedicate such taxes to meet the increased demands for public expenditure on health care.

  • Focus government’s role on primary and preventive health care programmes, apart from providing free and affordable health care to the indigent and needy sections of the population.

10. The Council also heard Shri Nusli Wadia and Shri Ratan Tata who had prepared a report on "Unshackling Indian Industry". The main suggestions of this Group included, inter alia, the following:-

  • Formulate a clear cut compliance policy, defining in unambiguous terms the list of compliances, which an investor has to meet. If all the compliances have been met, sanction should be forthcoming automatically.

  • Set in motion computerisation and updating of land records (as done in Andhra Pradesh).

  • Use IT more intensively in all Government departments.

  • Allow contract labour in all non-core activities of a company by making it explicit in the Act, thereby debarring contract labour specifically from only the continuous manufacturing process of a company.

  • Abolish the need for government permission for closure/ retrenchment/ layoff. Allow unit to be closed down after paying a mutually agreed compensation to the employees.

11. The Council also reviewed the status of implementation of the recommendations made by six special groups set up by the Prime Minister earlier. These recommendations are now at various stages of implementation in the respective Ministries.

  • The Council was informed that an Implementation Review Committee headed by the Finance Minister, which was set up at the last meeting of the Council in December, 1999, has already conducted an in-depth review of the status of implementation of the recommendations made by the Ratan Tata Committee on Infrastructure. Several of the suggestions made by this committee, such as the imposition of a cess on diesel and 4-laning of the major highways of the country, have already been adopted and are under implementation by the Government.

  • The Council noted that Government has taken up a major programme for enhancement of existing cold storage capacity in the country following the recommendations made in this regard by the Sub Group on Food and Agro Industries headed by Shri Nusli Wadia. This is expected to go a long way in the promotion of agro processing industries and prevention of wastage of perishable food products.

  • The Group on Capital Markets headed by Shri Mukesh Ambani had made recommendations regarding the role of Government in public sector banks, which has now been clearly enunciated by Government. A policy on PSU disinvestment suggested by the Group has also been put into the place, involving reduction of Government equity in non-core sector PSUs to 26%. Other suggestions of the Group such as abolition of BIFR and allowing pension funds to invest in the equity market, are under consideration.

  • Shri N.R. Narayana Murthy had submitted a report on Knowledge Based Industries, which has been factored into the Government’s IT initiatives. This includes introducing a legislation in Parliament to give legal cover to IT based transactions, protection, security, etc. Recommendations made by the Group on employee stock options and venture capital financing have also been largely accepted and implemented in the recent Budget. The Government’s internet policy has also broadly followed the recommendations of the Group, with more than 200 licences already issued under the ISP policy.

  • The report of the Group on Administrative and Legal Simplifications has been taken up by different Ministries of the Government for detailed scrutiny and follow up action. In many cases legislation or notification is under preparation. Labour issues raised in the report are under consideration of the Second Labour Commission. The Government has already decided to repeal a number of anachronistic laws to simplify and clarify the legal and regulatory environment.

12. The Prime Minister observed that the hard work put in by the members of the Council in preparing their recommendations would be matched by an equal fervour within the various Ministries and Departments for expeditious follow up action. He promised that follow up action on these recommendations will continue to be reviewed and monitored by the Implementation Review Committee under the Chairmanship of the Finance Minister.

 

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