The ruling Indian National Congress (INC) came out with a 15-point agenda for what it called socio-economic and political transformation as part of its manifesto for the upcoming general elections. The manifesto talks about restoring GDP growth to over 8 per cent within three years, channelling as much as $1 trillion in infrastructure spending over the next decade, boosting manufacturing with special emphasis on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and raising healthcare expenditure and a right to housing.
While the agenda at large is about bringing inclusive growth, it talks about a charter of six socio-economic rights, including right to health, pension, housing, social security, dignity and humane working condition besides right to entrepreneurship.
Here are the highlights
- To support the right to health, it proposes to raise the health expenditure to 3 per cent of GDP to provide universal health care for all Indians (including free medicines). At the same time, it plans to provide five mobile health care vans in every district, equipped with x-ray and other equipment, to provide health care check-up, including, mammography, blood tests, etc.
- Restore 8 per cent GDP growth within three years and over 10 per cent manufacturing growth with special emphasis on SMEs to take manufacturing’s contribution to 25 per cent of GDP.
- Waive off all taxes, central and state, that go into exported products and put a minimum tariff protection so that there is an incentive to manufacture goods in India rather than import them.
- Achieving a target of 3 per cent fiscal deficit as a percentage of GDP by 2016-17 and sustaining it thereafter.
- Seek to implement GST and new Direct Tax Code within a year.
- Remove the retrospective tax risk and put out a clear policy on tax treatment of foreign firms and M&A transactions while ensuring that taxes are paid by multinational/foreign entities in the jurisdiction in which the profits are earned.
- Invest $1 trillion in infrastructure over the next decade.
- All towns and gram panchayats to be connected through broadband internet within 18 months.
- Seek to ensure every citizen has a bank account within five years.
- Enforcement of minimum wages and provision of pension cover to all workers within five years. In addition, skills training to 10 crore or 100 million people to make them employable in the next five years.
- Create 100 new urban clusters around existing small and emerging cities and link them with power and transport facilities to scale existing economic activities.
- Increase India’s investment rate to 38 per cent to ensure more new investments are made to create jobs.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)