Manmohan Singh has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, (subscription required) a mini-manifesto, if you will. Regular readers of IEB will find nothing new.
It’s an impressive to-do list, and includes many of our favorite things as well. So, are we going to see Mr Singh finally flexing his muscles and follow up with some action? Or is this still more empty rhetoric?
…our strategy for achieving rapid growth involves making our economy more open, with a rising share of trade to gross domestic product.
The economy is now much more open to foreign trade. Import licensing has become a thing of the past and our import tariffs have been slashed. The government proposes to continue reducing them until we reach the levels prevailing in East Asia.
Young Indians are ready to compete globally, to test their skills and sell their wares on the world market. They look to government primarily to create an enabling environment. We are committed to more reforms, especially aimed at bolstering the competitiveness of manufacturing.
The most important area where the government can help India’s entrepreneurs is by addressing infrastructure deficiencies. There is no doubt that India has large gaps in physical infrastructure compared with our competitors in East Asia and even Southeast Asia. We need to bridge the gap in electricity generation, roads, railways, telecommunications, ports, airports, and urban mass transport if our potential is to be realized.
The investment required to close the infrastructure gap is huge — current estimates suggest that we will have to spend $250 billion on infrastructure over the next five years, far more than the public purse can afford. We propose to supplement public resources by using public private partnerships (PPPs) as much as possible.