The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shourie wants timely use of forex kitty

Chennai Jan. 25: Union commerce and industry minister Arun Shourie today called for timely utilisation of burgeoning foreign exchange reserves of India. Addressing an open house meet on exim policy here, he said though it was heartening that foreign exchange reserves presently stood at a comfortable $ 72 billion, that was no reason to be complacent.

He said due to the interest rate differentials between Europe and India, foreign exchange reserves were likely to be accumulated, adding this situation called for timely utilisation of the reserves.

The minister also stressed the need for more cooperation among the Centre, state governments, industry and trade to see that the ongoing economic reforms became truly successful at the ground level.

“Reforms just by announcements are not enough any more,” he said. Every effort should be made to implement reforms on the actual ground level, he further added.

The minister said that the global economic situation was getting more and more competitive. “The world is not going to slow down just because we have not improved.”

Shourie called upon the industrial community and exporters to accept WTO as an inevitable new regime which offered both opportunities and challenges.

He said rapid developments were scheduled to happen with regard to WTO this year relating to both agricultural and non-agricultural areas in which India had considerable stakes.

He said the government was committed to safeguarding the interests of the Indian industry in these sectors during the forthcoming WTO negotiations scheduled during March and May next.

Stressing the need for accelerating the pace of reforms and economic growth in the emerging globalised scenario, he said “the problem is that we have too many pilot projects and too many beginnings.”

He also highlighted the need for removing domestic impediments to the maximum in the coming days.

Referring to poor fiscal situation of the Centre and state governments, he said at least 13 state governments were now finding it difficult to pay salaries, while 70 per cent of the central revenues were being utilised to pay back the interest on previous loans.

“In fact, state governments had been spending at least Rs 8000-9000 crore every year to subsidise bankrupt PSUs without any positive result.”

Responding to various issues raised by exporters and export promotion councils at the open house meet, Shourie said he would take up the issues with concerned ministries.

Customs verification related issues were being sorted out to avoid difficulties to the exporters, he said, adding full-fledged computerisation of procedures relating to customs clearance now being implemented would go a long way in solving many of the problems.

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