Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday said India remained the “fastest-growing major economy" globally despite “deep structural reforms" such as the goods and services tax (GST). He said the country had seen a sharp rise in foreign direct investment during the last three years, and moved up 42 places in the latest ease of doing business rankings.
Addressing the Indian diaspora at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre in Singapore, Modi detailed the reforms undertaken by his government and emphasised that the country’s infrastructure had been expanding at a record pace.
“Our economy has become more stable. Fiscal deficit is down. The inflation rate is down. Current account deficit is comfortable. The currency is stable. And foreign exchange reserves are at a record high. In India, the present is changing rapidly - the new India is taking place. Economic reforms are taking place at a speed and scale not known so far," he said, while adding that the country was among the “most open economies in the world".
Modi said India’s income tax base had expanded by about 20 million, and touched upon other reforms, including the lowering of tax rates for corporates, faster resolution of tax-related disputes and electronic filing.
Modi said the country had become the sixth largest producer of renewable energy globally, adding that his government had build 10,000 km of national highways and added 80,000 MW of power during the last three years.
Among other initiatives, Modi said India was rolling out metro rails in several cities, and was currently undertaking seven high speed rail projects, was building dedicated freight corridors, in addition to 10 greenfield airports and five new major ports, while 111 rivers had been designated as national waterways.
On financial inclusion, Modi said in the last three years 316 million bank accounts had been opened that ensured that 99% of the households had access to banking.
“It is a new source of dignity and identity for every citizen, a remarkable story of inclusion and empowerment. More than $12 billion have been deposited in these accounts. Government benefits worth more than $50 billion have been transferred directly to the beneficiaries. They now have access to affordable pensions and insurance – everything that was once only a dream. Nowhere in the world has banking expansion taken place on such a scale and at such speed," he added.
He also pointed out that digital transactions are growing rapidly. “In 2017, just the UPI-based transactions grew seven thousand percent. In January, all digital transactions were valued at $ 2 trillion," Modi said.
On bilateral trade, Modi said the review of India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement had been completed recently, and that work was on to further upgrade it.
“We will work with all, most of all with Asean, to reach an early conclusion to Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership," he added.
Earlier in the evening, Modi, accompanied by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and minister for communications and information S. Iswaran, visited the India-Singapore Enterprise and Innovation Exhibition at Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre, where 30 start-ups from both countries exhibited their products and offerings.
At the ‘Business, Innovation and Community Event’, Modi launched three Indian mobile payment apps—BHIM, RuPay and SBI’s UPI.
“RuPay, BHIM and UPI—it is natural for these to be launched in Singapore. Together, we can build a great economic partnership of the new age," Modi said.