Wednesday, January 10, 2007

PM promises humane rehabilitation policy

Our Bureau

Tackling land acquisition issues, displacement of people

WARM WELCOME: The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, with the FICCI
President-elect, Mr Habil F. Khorakiwala, and the Patron of FICCI, Mr K.
K. Birla, at the 79th annual general meeting of the apex chamber, in the
Capital on Monday. — Kamal Narang

New Delhi , Jan. 8

Speaking in the backdrop of violence in West Bengal over land
acquisition for industrial development, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan
Singh, said on Monday that the Government will finalise a new
Rehabilitation Policy in three months to tackle issues such as land
acquisition, displacement of people and their rehabilitation in a
transparent manner. "The new policy will be more progressive and humane
to the long-term welfare of all stakeholders," he said.

Inaugurating the 79th Annual General Meeting of the Federation of Indian
Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) on Monday, Mr Singh said that
he had noticed that not all proposals for investment in large projects
materialise owing to various hurdles and bottlenecks.

"Many of these require inter-ministerial action or close co-ordination
between the Centre and States. I will ask the Finance Ministry and the
Investment Commission to suggest an institutional mechanism whereby
large scale projects in the public and private sectors are facilitated
so that they take off as planned," he said.

Reiterating his commitment towards increased economic integration
between India and the economies of the East and South-East Asia, the
Prime Minster said, "We have laid out a timetable for tariff reduction
and we must adhere to it. Indian industry can no longer seek excessive
protection through tariffs and must prepare for the brave new world of
global integration." Stressing the need for a liberal, equitable and
transparent domestic tax regime, Mr Singh declared that in the long run,
"our tax regime should not have too many exemptions which make tax
administration an unnecessarily complex exercise, vulnerable to misuse."

He further said, "Not only do we have a goal of investing over $320
billion in our infrastructure sectors, we have also to create the
necessary institutional structures and tangible investment opportunities
to enable this investment to actually happen."

The outgoing FICCI President, Mr Saroj Kumar Poddar, pointed out that a
double-digit rate of growth would require five principal elements —
pushing the frontiers of manufacturing revolution and target to bring
the share of manufacturing sector in GDP from 17 per cent to 25 per
cent, need for an infrastructure revolution, fine-tune the tax structure
to increase the base while taking advantage of the Laffer curve effect,
strategic focus on second generation reforms and bridging the
rural-urban divide by ushering in a second Green Revolution.

While speaking later during the day, the Opposition leader, Mr L.K.
Advani, condemned the special economic zone (SEZ) policy of the UPA
Government. "Although SEZs are needed as enclaves of world class
manufacturing units with special focus on exports, it is unfortunate
that the UPA Government has not exercised the necessary precaution and
transparency in formulating and implementing the policy," he said.

Mr Advani said his party does not favour fertile agriculture land to be
acquired for setting up of SEZs and industrial units. "And where ever
farmer's land is purchased for this purpose, they must not only receive
just compensation and effective rehabilitation but also some kind of
stake in the project or a regular income stream," he added.


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