New Delhi: Describing India as "a haven of stability" in a turbulent global economy, President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said the government has simplified procedures for approvals, repealed obsolete laws and put in place a non-adversarial tax regime to attract investments.
Addressing the joint sitting of Parliament at the start of the Budget session, the President listed out achievements of the Modi government, saying India has jumped 12 places on the ease of doing business ranking of the World Bank while foreign investment inflow has risen 39 per cent.
The government has taken to reforming institutions, simplifying procedures and repealing obsolete laws, besides unlocking infrastructure development opportunities as well as focusing on clean energy and cutting subsidy leakages.
"India is a haven of stability in an increasingly turbulent global economy. GDP growth has increased making India the world's fastest growing economy among large economies," he said.
Mukherjee said inflation, fiscal deficit and current account deficit have all come down and the country recorded the highest ever foreign exchange reserves in 2015.
"The government has taken a number of measures to put in place a simplified, progressive and non-adversarial tax regime by incorporating internationally prevalent best practices in tax administration," he said refering to taxpayer-friendly facilities like e-filing of returns, electronic processing and retrieval of documents and online grievance redressal.
Also, procedures have been simplified to improve ease of approvals, and dedicated commercial courts and commercial divisions in high courts have been established. "For speedy resolution of commercial disputes, the long overdue amendments to the Arbitration Act have been made," he said.
Stating that employment generation was the government's top goal, the President said job creation is being driven through initiatives like Make-in-India, Startup India, Mudra and Skill India.
Mukherjee said the government has taken several measures to improve the quality of governance. "Close to 1,800 obsolete legislations are at various stages of repeal," he said.
NITI Aayog, the new avatar of the Planning Commission, is engaged with states in policy formulation in spirit of cooperative federalism.
Also, 500 e-governance services through public-private partnerships in 12 states have been taken up. "Robust infrastructure development unlocks opportunities for all," he said, adding that the Smart Cities programme envisages city development in a challenge mode.
As many as 20 cities have been selected in the first phase of the Smart City programme after intense competition among 98 cities. "Second and third phases of the programme are on the anvil," Mukherjee added.
To enhance availability of clean energy, the government plans to increase renewable energy capacity to 175 giga watt by 2022 through offshore wind farms, bundling thermal power with solar power and setting up solar parks in states.
Solar power capacity has almost doubled in the last 20 months and crossed 5,000 mw. "Today, under my government, solar power is affordable and accessible to thousands of people," he added.
Since the government assumed office, energy shortage has reduced to 2.3 per cent from 4 per cent. "My government is committed to providing electricity to all the census villages by May 2018," he said.
Mukherjee said that while the Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY) seeks to turn around the financially sick power distribution companies, 83 per cent of generation capacity addition target of 88,537 mw for 12th Five Year Plan has already been achieved.
Also, the government will commission major transmission projects for reducing congestion in transmission. Besides, critical amendments in the Tariff Policy have been introduced to ensure availability of electricity to consumers at reasonable and competitive rates, he said.