Govt to raise FDI caps, export sops

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New Delhi, Dec 4: The government today said it was planning to raise FDI caps on certain sectors, offer further sops to exporters and set up a task force for five industries to enable larger employment.

This indication was given by Minister for Industrial Policy and Promotion Ashwini Kumar while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the India Economic Summit here, being jointly organised by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and CII.

Mr Kumar, who is also the Minister of State for Commerce, said his ministry will move Cabinet to raise FDI caps in certain sectors, but refused to identify them.

''The FDI review process is on and is very soon going before the Cabinet. We have proposed certain changes and relaxations on certain sectors on equity cap, but I will not comment before the Cabinet decides on it,'' Mr Kumar said.

There is speculation that the government plans to hike FDI cap in oil refining, commodity exchanges, and aviation services, such as chartering planes and helicopters and ground handling facilities.

While the government is keen to raise the cap on the insurance sector, staunch opposition, especially from the Left parties, have prevented it from doing so. There is also very strong opposition to pension reforms.

Mr Kumar said the almost secular appreciation of the rupee has hit the exporting community hard and the government will not hesitate to announce more sops, like hiking duty drawback rates from three to five per cent.

The government has already announced three packages for the exporting community to compensate them for the shrinking of their profits due to a rising rupee.

''We will be pitching for more sops from the Finance Ministry as a slowdown in exports will lead to a decline in industrial production. We are trying our best to bring in suitable policy intervention,'' he said.

The Minister said the downswing in manufacturing during the second quarter of the year was a temporary affair and soon the sector will move up.

''The slowdown in industrial production is consequent to ahardening rupee this quarter. But very soon we will see an upward trend,'' Mr Kumar said.

Mr Kumar said the government will soon set up a task force for five industries- leather, textiles, skill upgradation, electronic hardware and food processing.

The Minister referred to the paradox of high unemployment co-existing with shortage of skilled people. The prime job before the government therefore, was to develop skills in industries which high employment elasticity.

''The task force will look to address the five critical sectors where India can generate huge employment. We will also make a proposal to expand in a substantial way the skill upgradation programme,'' Mr Kumar said.

The Minister said that in the event of US economy, going into a recessionary mode, India's exports will be hit.

''The US is the largest market for any country and I believe any slowdown in the US economy will affect us. IT and Services industries export two-thirds of their services to the US. However, the good news is exports to Europe and other countries in that region are expanding,'' he added.


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