The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Singh peddles look-home dream

New Delhi, March 26: “I want the Mittals and the Tatas, and all others who are eyeing global opportunities to also invest more at home. India is a land of opportunity,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here today.

Addressing the ‘CII steel summit vision 2020’, Singh said: “While I commend our business leaders for their global vision and reach, I urge them to pay equal attention to market opportunities at home.”

Mittal’s acquisition of Arcelor and the Tata takeover of Corus have hit international headlines, but the Prime Minister feels this should not be at the cost of investments in India.

Referring to the Nandigram and Singur troublespots, he said: “There has been some controversy in the recent past on industrial policy, but I am sure the people of India want to see industrial progress. In a country where the average size of landholding is so small, there are limitations to what you can do to improve agricultural productivity,” he said.

“The long-term solution to the problem of agrarian distress has to be to take people away from agriculture, to manufacturing, to services and other non-agricultural pursuits,” he said.

The increasing number of global steel majors who have announced plans to set up plants in India gives a fair indication of the comparative advantage of manufacturing steel in India, he pointed out.

He exhorted the captains of industry to modernise their manufacturing facilities to meet the twin challenges of rising demand for better quality steel and growing competition in this sector.

He assured them that the government would do whatever is necessary to ensure that industry is able to meet the growing demand for steel. “It is your responsibility to ensure that good quality steel is available at reasonable prices,” he added.

In the last five years, the production and consumption of steel has grown at rates exceeding 9 per cent. The Eleventh Five Year Plan projects a 9 per cent average annual growth rate in GDP. We should expect to see a massive increase in investment in infrastructure for which there is bound to be a huge growth in demand for steel in the next few decades.

“We are aware that its future growth would require improved transport infrastructure and energy resources. The government will support every effort of the industry in meeting these requirements,” he added.

Singh said the government is committed to a policy of growth with equity and social responsibility. The steel industry has a huge requirement for land. These needs must be balanced against larger social concerns with respect to equitable development and inclusive growth.

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