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Top News Story Bold reforms in key economic, strategic sectors

Top News Story Bold reforms in key economic, strategic sectors.

New Delhi, May 16
The government today announced major reforms in key economic and strategic sectors, including hike in foreign direct investment to 74 per cent in the defence sector and opening doors for the private sector to enter the hitherto-barred areas of coal mining, atomic energy and space.
Addressing her fourth press conference on the stimulus package announced by the PM, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also announced privatisation of electricity distribution in all UTs, shorter flying routes, corporatisation of Ordnance Factory Board, a negative import list of defence items and Rs 50,000 crore for improving infrastructure at mine pitheads.
She said all eight areas enumerated today were new horizon growth areas with great potential for investment. The government has identified 5 lakh hectares of acquired land that will be graded according to its state of readiness and offered to investors.
"The announcements are in keeping with the PM's track record of deep systemic reforms," she said.
She began with the coal sector, announcing the decision to auction coal and coal-bed methane blocks to private players after the introduction of a simplified licensing regime and rationalisation of stamp duty. In mineral exploration, transfer of lease would be permitted and 500 blocks auctioned.
As regards defence sector, the government would notify a list of items to be progressively banned from being imported and a separate budgetary provisioning for making purchases from domestic manufacturers.
Sitharaman announced to shorten flying time for some civilian air routes, thereby saving Rs 1,000 crore; and policy incentives to make India a repair hub for military and civilian planes. Six airports would be auctioned to the private sector in three months and a dozen privately run airports would invest in better facilities. The government intends taking the first step towards the involvement of private sector in space and atomic energy. The private sector will be allowed a wide range of activities in the space sector, from getting its products tested at ISRO facilities to space launches and planetary explorations.
In the atomic energy sector, the entry would be through the PPP mode to set up a research reactor to produce medical isotopes and to use irradiation technology for preserving food and crops.
The government hiked the viability gap funding from 20 to 30 per cent for social infrastructure projects with the involvement of private sector.

from The Tribun

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