New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday avoided major economic announcements in his last Independence Day address before the next Lok Sabha elections and instead highlighted his government's achievements, citing GST as the centrepiece and the commendations from multilateral agencies on the reform measures.
He said his government will not relent on its unwavering commitment to weeding out corruption and black money.
"India has registered its name as the sixth largest economy in the world. It has created positivity. We are celebrating the festival of freedom in such a positive atmosphere," Modi said.
"Before 2013, institutions and economists across the world used to refer to India as a risky economy, but today the same institutions and individuals are saying with confidence that reforms have given India a new momentum and strong fundamentals."
While the country was earlier counted among the fragile five economies of the world, "today India is considered a multi-trillion dollar destination for investment," Modi said.
"They say the sleeping elephant has woken up and started walking. For the next three decades, India is going to guide and speed up the world economy."
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said last week that India'a near-term macroeconomic outlook is "broadly favorable" and that the country is on course to hold its position as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. IMF mission chief for India Ranil Salgado said the Indian economy is like "an elephant starting to run".
Targeting the Congress-led UPA without naming it, Modi said if his government had worked with the speed followed in 2013, it would have taken a century in making India open defecation free or electrifying every part or even providing LPG connection to every woman.
"The demand for higher MSP (minimum support price) was pending for years. From farmers to political parties to agriculture experts, everybody was asking about it but nothing happened. The decision was taken by our government to provide the MSP of 1.5 times of production cost," The Prime Minister said.
He talked about the Goods and Services Tax (GST), saying it had given a new confidence to small and big traders who "wholeheartedly embraced" the new tax regime despite facing "initial problems".
"From 70 lakh indirect tax payers after 70 years of Independence, within a year of GST implementation this number has gone up to 1.16 crore," Modi said.
He said the various initiatives to plug leakages in government subsidy distribution had benefited the exchequer to the tune of Rs 90,000 crore.
"We will not spare people who generate illicit income and black money. As many as 3 lakh shell and suspicious companies have been closed and their directors blacklisted by my government," he added.
Pointing to the government's inclusive programmes, Modi noted that under the Mudra loan scheme for disadvantaged sections, including women, as many as 13 crore loans had been disbursed, of which 4 crore people were first-time loan takers.