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New Delhi: Union minister for Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Information & Broadcasting M Venkaiah Naidu on November 15 said that populist measures in the past negatively impacted the investment in core sectors  thereby negating the creation of long term assets and skills upgradation. As a consequence, the focus on freebees neglected investment in core sectors.

The government was currently focussing on development of infrastructure and social sector based on the mantra that Growth and Welfare were integrally linked, he said. Naidu was addressing the legislators at the workshop focusing on the “Role of Infrastructure in states” at National Institute of Public Finance and Policy here on Tuesday.

Naidu mentioned that under the leadership of the prime minister, Skill development, Self-Employment, Inclusive Development and Economic Inclusion had become the focus areas for the government. The government is focussing on Reform, Perform and Transform. In this context, he stated that the first major push to infrastructure and connectivity was given by former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee who had brought connectivity revolution in the country and the current government has taken it forward, according to a PIB release.

Elaborating further, Naidu highlighted the initiatives taken by the government to boost the regional connectivity by setting up 50 new airports over the next three years and by investing over Rs 7,000 crore in this financial year for better connectivity in the north-eastern region. In the context of ease of availability of capital in infrastructure sector, Naidu mentioned that Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had permitted companies in infrastructure sector to raise External Commercial Borrowings with certain conditions for borrowing under the automatic route. Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had allowed Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPI) to invest in units of real estate investment trusts (REITs), infrastructure investment trusts (InvITs), and category III alternative investment funds (AIFs).

Detailing about the government’s budgetary allocation tin the sector, he said that the Government of India had made a record allocation Rs 221,246 crore for several infrastructure projects in Union Budget 2016-17, which was expected to provide significant boost to Indian infrastructure sector. The recent initiative of highway projects worth US$ 93 billion, which include government flagship National Highways Building Project (NHDP) with total investment of US$ 45 billion over next three years would also boost the highways sector.

Regarding demonetisation, Naidu mentioned that it has been the biggest reform since independence which broke the backbone of arms smugglers, drug traffickers, counterfeit currency and hawala operators and our neighbour which was aiding, abetting and funding black money in the country. Demonetization would help economic growth of the country and would bring down the inflation, he said.Naidu while talking about the current status of Smart City Mission, said that it was running ahead of schedule.

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