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New Delhi: The record capex push in the union budget will drive growth and create jobs, commerce minister Piyush Goyal said in a media interaction, adding that “many" production linked incentives (PLIs) are in the pipeline and they would be announced after getting cabinet approval on a regular basis. Edited excerpts:

What does the Budget do to spur growth?

Never before in the history of India has the country focused on growth as much as in the last three or four years— the capex from the centre going up to 3.3% of the GDP. In a short span of four years, we have demonstrated to the world that for us investment in infrastructure with its multifaceted benefits is the way to spur growth. If you were to look at the multiplier effect of every rupee spent on infrastructure, various estimates suggest it’s 3.5x. So the budget is massively focused on growth, jobs, opportunities for our next generation.

Economic survey has flagged a slowdown next fiscal. Where do you think the push for exports will come from in this budget?

Clearly the international situation is challenging. Despite that we continued to be at about 8 or 9% growth in merchandise exports in the current year which is phenomenal, considering that the global trade is growing barely 1%. We continue to have a 20% growth in services which is a big credit to our young boys and girls and particularly our IT sector. It also reflects that tourism is another area where governments are giving rich dividends. And you saw the focus on tourism being presented in the budget today. Also 50 tourist spots are going to be made truly world class.

What is the rationale behind the custom duty rejig on certain items?

Generally this effort is to promote domestic manufacturing. For instance, a raw material had a customs duty and an intermediate product was coming in—from data when we see, it was coming in through an FTA or some other route at zero duty. The Indian domestic manufacturer is at a disadvantage. So we’ve tried to reduce the duty on the raw material also so that they get it without duty and they can compete in the market.

The economic survey pointed out that most of our exports go to seven countries. How are we going to expand that?

This is something that the Prime Minister has focused on since 2014. He has been talking to missions also. So in this country for the first time, our missions have started hand-holding industry. There was a time when our businessman used to complain that if I’m stuck in a problem somewhere, the mission doesn’t come to my support. Whereas foreign missions in India would always come with industry delegation ..writing letters for their industry. The data you’ve spoken about us, focus more on merchandise exports. When you add service exports then the dispersion becomes much bigger. So out of the 200 countries, the large countries are still only about 15-20. So there is bound to be a concentration of exports in a few countries.

There has been a lot of buzz about the PLI scheme’s likely extension?

That fund has already been provided by the finance minister— 2 trillion plus 76,000 crore for the semiconductor industry. So as and when other PLIs schemes get approved, the cabinet is empowered to approve it. It does not have to go through a budgetary process a second time. The actual scheme approvals is a cabinet process and the guidelines is a ministerial process. Many [PLIs] are in the pipeline.

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