Finance M Sitharaman announces structural reforms in 8 key sectors
Here the sector-wise reforms announced by the finance minister:
* Commercial mining in coal sector
Nearly 50 blocks will be offered for bidding and the government will invest Rs 50,000 crore for building evacuation infrastructure.
* Enhancing private investment in mineral sector
500 blocks of minerals will be auctioned in a composite exploration-cum-mining-cum-production regime. A joint auction of bauxite and coal blocks would be done to enhance the aluminium industry’s competitiveness. This will help the aluminium industry reduce electricity costs.
Besides, government said the distinction between captive and non-captive mines will be removed to allow the transfer of mining leases and sale of surplus unused minerals, leading to better efficiency and production.
* Increased FDI limit in defence manufacturing
To boost Make in India in defence production, the government has hiked FDI (foreign direct investment) limit in defence manufacturing from 49 per cent to 74 per cent. However, it will be subject to security clearance norms. In addition, some weapons and platforms have been banned for imports and can only be purchased from within the country.
Sitharaman said there will be indigenisation of some imported spares and separate budget provisioning for domestic capital procurement will be done.
* Easing of restrictions on utilisation of Indian air space
The finance minister announced an easing of restrictions on utilisation of Indian air space, benefiting civil aviation sector by about Rs 1,000 crore per year. This would help reduce time and save on fuel.
Further, six more airports will be auctioned for private participation and an additional investment of Rs 13,000 crore will be made by private players in 12 airports auctioned in first and second rounds.
Tax regime for aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) has also been rationalised. The government expects aircraft component repair and airframe maintenance to increase from Rs 800 crore to Rs 2,000 crores in three years.
* Privatisation of discoms in union territories
Electricity distribution companies in Union Territories (UTs) will be privatised by the government. This is expected to provide a model to be replicated in states later to improve efficiency and attract investment.
Privatisation of discoms will lead to better service to consumers and improvement in operational and financial efficiency in power distribution, Sitharaman said.
* Viability gap funding for social infrastructure projects
Centre will provide Rs 8,100 crore as viability gap funding (VGF) for the development of social infrastructure. The finance minister said social infrastructure projects suffer from poor viability. Therefore, the government will enhance the quantum of viability gap funding up to 30 per cent each of the total project cost as VGF by central and state/statutory bodies.
* Boosting private participation in space activities
For boosting private participation in space activities, the government will provide a level playing field for private companies in satellites, launches and space-based services. The private sector will also be allowed to use ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) facilities and other relevant assets to improve their capacities.
Future projects for planetary exploration and outer space travel would be open for the private sector, while liberal geospatial data policy will provide remote sensing data to tech-entrepreneurs.
* Atomic energy-related reforms
In atomic energy, a research reactor in PPP mode for the production of medical isotopes that can be used for affordable treatment for cancer and other diseases will be established by the Center.
(With PTI inputs)