Amid a widespread slowdown in the economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday committed to a five-year vision of investment-led growth, saying a massive Rs 100 lakh crore will be spent on developing infrastructure that will help in achieving the target of $5 trillion economy.
In a bid to reassure the India Inc, he said wealth creators are the country's wealth and should not be looked at with suspicion.
Exuding confidence of achieving the target of $5 trillion economy, PM Modi in his address to the nation from the Red Fort on the 73rd Independence Day, said fundamentals of the economy are strong and a stable government coupled with predictable policies can become a catalyst including in attracting other nations to invest in India.
"We are targeting a $5 trillion economy. Many think it is difficult. But if we don't do difficult things how will we progress?" he asked. "It took us 70 years to reach $2 trillion economy size, and in the last one year alone we added $1 trillion. And this gives us confidence that in the next 5 years, we can take it towards $5 trillion," PM Modi said.
India's economic growth accelerated in the first few years of PM Modi's tenure, even breaching 8 per cent in 2016 and 2017. The government was able to push through major reforms, including the introduction of GST. But the growth rate has since then slowed to a five-year low of 5.8 per cent in January-March 2019, consumer confidence has waned and foreign direct investment has plateaued.
The auto sector is facing the worst crisis in about 20 years and reports suggest job losses in thousands. In the real estate sector, the number of unsold homes has increased while fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies have reported a decline in volume growth and lending to job-creating MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) by banks has actually slipped. When the government needs more money, tax collection has grown by just 1.4 per cent.
Entrepreneurs have voiced frustrations with regulation and the high cost of capital.
PM Modi, however, sought to allay concerns saying the fundamentals of the economy are strong, with low inflation and a potential to boost exports.
For entrepreneurs and businessmen, he said wealth creators must be respected and they should not be seen with suspicion.
"Let us never see wealth creators with suspicion. Only when wealth is created, wealth will be distributed. Wealth creation is absolutely essential. Those who create wealth are India's wealth and we respect them."
PM Modi said the world is keen to do business with India. "Over the years we watched people making India a market. We too should reach the markets of the world. Why can't every district be an export hub?... If we aim for the global markets and make local products attractive, it will give employment to our youth."
He saw tourism as a potential for not just propelling the local economy but also for creating jobs.
As many as 100 new tourist destinations should be developed while the North East becoming a major tourist hub, he said adding citizens should visit at least 15 tourist destinations within the country by 2022, which will help in expansion of economic activities.
The GST, which subsumed nearly one-and-a-half dozen central and state taxes, brought to life the dream of ''One Nation, One Tax'' and the country has also achieved ''One Nation, One Grid'' in the energy sector while attempt is being made for ''One Nation, One Mobility Card'' for seamless travel across the country, he said.
PM Modi said he has scrapped obsolete laws to make it easier to do business in the country and is now targeting a position in top 50 nations on the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business ranking.
He, however, wanted businesses to shun cash and go accept only digital payments in an attempt to bring transparency and root out black money.