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Panels to monitor progress on reforms

Calcutta, Dec. 6: The Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) and the Cabinet Committee of Economic Reforms (CCER) will prepare progress reports on the performance of each ministry on the reforms front, which will be evaluated by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on a regular basis.

The government has taken the decision to ensure that each ministry delivers on an agreed tranche of policy/institutional reforms each fiscal, additional secretary to the Prime Minister Prodipto Ghosh said.

He was in the city to address the members of the Indian Chamber of Commerce. “The entire exercise is aimed at speeding up the second generation of reforms,” he said.

Ghosh also indicated that a national policy on the subsidy is also in the offing. He cited that the government has to give a subsidy of Rs 38,800 crore to the state power sector.

Regarding the removal of FDI caps Ghosh said the group of ministers examining the relaxation of FDI caps on different sectors will submit its report within a few weeks.

The government feels that the relaxation of sectoral caps on FDI would have a positive effect on the quantum of inflows, Ghosh told reporters here after the interactive session organised by ICC.

The group of ministers has been reviewing the suggestions of the N. K. Singh panel made after a study of the FDI inflows in sectors like telecom, insurance and aviation.

Ghosh said the ministerial group would submit its report within a few weeks, after which a policy decision would be taken. He said India received the highest ever FDI flows in the year 2001-02.

Regarding the Kelkar panel’s recommendations on tax reforms, Ghosh said the final paper would be submitted soon and that most suggestions in the draft discussion paper are likely to see the light of the day.

He emphasised the need of setting up an e-governance platform for all citizen/business-government interfaces, adding the government needed Rs 40,000 crore to set up this platform.

“Public private partnership (PPP) models will be developed to enable IT resources to be outsourced. Multilateral funding institutions will be requested to provide additional resources to enable states to adopt e-governance,” Ghosh said.

He appreciated the steps taken by the Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and West Bengal governments to establish e-governance in their states.

Earlier, addressing ICC members, he said among the other initiatives taken by the state government was drafting of a unified food safety law to facilitate investments in the food processing industry.

He said the plethora of food laws was discouraging those who wanted to invest in the sector. A group of ministers has been constituted to draft the law. Another initiative being taken by the government was phasing out of fertiliser subsidies, he said. Ghosh said the utmost imperative of the government now was to restrain expenditure. He said if government revenue expenditure grew simultaneously with disinvestment proceeds, that would worsen the state of public finances of the centre.

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