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|October 26, 1998||
Vajpayee promises to sort out Net mess in a fortnightIn a fresh effort to revive domestic industrial growth, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Saturday unveiled a time-bound action plan to resolve the problems of the telecom sector, announced measures to boost the capital market and promised to step up government spending in infrastructure.
Addressing the 71st annual session of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi, Vajpayee said all outstanding issues
The effort would be to strengthen the regulatory role of the TRAI, Vajpayee indicated.
The government will also unveil an Internet policy and issue licences to private Internet service providers in the next 15 days. A new telecom policy would be ready in three months, Vajpayee said.
The prime minister also promised measures by the year-end to resolve outstanding issues in the telecom sector such as the structure of the licence fee for basic and cellular operators.
The National Task Force on Information Technology has been mandated to prepare a report suggesting resolution of these issues, he said, adding that the task force would submit its recommendations by November 30.
The prime minister conceded that domestic trade and industry are going through "difficult times''. These are "trying times'' also for the government, he said.
"...Indian industry and business are passing through difficult times. Confidence is low and expectations from the government high,'' Vajpayee said.
He maintained that the downturn in the global economy is partly responsible for the present difficulties of domestic trade and industry. Rather than debunk globalisation, however, India should evolve a "strategic response'' to the crisis, Vajpayee said.
Globalisation and swadeshi are complementary, he maintained.
The prime minister said India would push for a "radical change'' in the approach and functioning of rating agencies and global commercial banks, while seeking a restructuring of the World Bank and the IMF.
The government is working on a six-point conceptual framework for a new "global financial architecture'' designed to prevent large-scale volatility in the global financial markets and check the "contagion effect'' of financial crises, Vajpayee said. This will be presented for a national debate, the prime minister said.
Reiterating that the fundamentals of the Indian economy were sound, Vajpayee said there is a "big Indian opportunity'' waiting to be reaped once the cycle of recovery and high growth sets in. Government, business and industry should work together to realise this opportunity, he said.
Responding to another major concern of the domestic industry, Vajpayee acknowledged that government spending on infrastructure has come down significantly in the post-reform period and promised to remove this "damaging imbalance''.
As part of this, he said the government would begin work this year on a 7,000-kilometre road project including a north-south corridor, connecting Kashmir to Kanyakumari and an east-west corridor, linking Silchar and Saurashtra.
This Rs 280 billion project would provide a boost to the cement and construction industries, the prime minister maintained.
The government would also identify five cities for excellent international airports with up to 100 per cent foreign equity, Vajpayee said.
In the other infrastructure sectors, the government would invite bids for oil exploration in the next two months. Curiously, Petroleum Minister V K Ramamurthy had said in mid-September that advertisements inviting these bids could come out "any day''.
- Compiled from the Indian media
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