Wooing Gujarat, PM says economy on track, more reforms ahead


India, All India

During his one-day visit to the state, the Prime Minister also shared data to prove the economy’s strong fundamentals.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Ghogha Sea Ferry Point in Bhavnagar, Gujarat, on Sunday to mark the inauguration of the Ghogha-Dahej Ro-Ro Ferry Service. (Photo:PTI)

Dahej (Gujarat): In his third visit this month to poll-bound Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday dispelled doubts about the economy’s health after the implementation of GST and demonetisation while announcing new projects worth Rs 2,000 crores for the state, including his dream project of the roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) ferry service linking Ghogha to Dahej.

The Prime Minister also hit out at the earlier UPA government for creating hurdles in the state’s development when he was the state’s chief minister, sharpening his attack on the Congress at the time of a political row over the delay in announcement of dates for the Gujarat Assembly elections.

Vowing to continue reforms, Mr Modi highlighted his government’s economic achievements and reached out to traders amid attacks by the Congress and critics over a dip in growth in the post-GST period.

“After all reforms and hardcore decisions, the economy of the country is on track and is going in the right direction,” Mr Modi said addressing a rally here.

“Many economists have agreed unanimously that the fundamentals of the economy are strong,” he said, assuring traders that their past records will not be checked by the income-tax department if they join the formal economy by getting themselves registered under the GST regime.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had attacked Mr Modi during his recent campaign tour in Gujarat, after the growth rate slipped to 5.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2017-18.

During his one-day visit to the state on Sunday, the Prime Minister also shared data to prove the economy’s strong fundamentals. “If we have a look at the figures which have come recently, the production of coal, electricity, natural gas and other items has increased tremendously. Foreign investors are making record investments in the country. The foreign exchange reserves of the country have reached $40,000 crores from $30,000 crores,” Mr Modi said.

“We have taken important decisions regarding reforms and this process will continue. The financial stability of the country will be maintained while initiating reforms,” he said.

Talking about GST, Mr Modi said the number of traders joining the new indirect tax regime is growing day by day. “In the last few months, 27 lakh additional people have registered themselves for this indirect tax...,” he said.

While launching the ferry service in Ghogha earlier, Mr Modi blamed the previous Congress-led UPA government for delaying the venture by creating hurdles in the name of environment.

“I had laid the foundation stone for the project in 2012, but for doing work in the sea, you had to remain dependent on the Central government then. There were such people in the Central government that they had put a ban on development from Vapi to Mandvi in Kutch along coastal Gujarat,” he said.

“Industries were threatened to be closed in the name of environment. I know how many challenges I had faced for the development of Gujarat,” he said, attacking the Congress-led UPA government.

Hailing the ferry project as a “precious gift to the country from Ghogha”, Mr Modi blamed the erstwhile UPA government for ignoring the shipping and port sector.

He also took the first trip in the ferry from Ghogha to Dahej with 100 visually-impaired children from Bhavnagar. The first phase of the project connects Ghogha of Bhavnagar district in Saurashtra region to Dahej of Bharuch district in south Gujarat. The PM said the project will be extended up to Hazira in Surat district, and similar projects will also be launched in the Gulf of Kutch.

“The ferry can take more than 100 trucks at one time, and with such a huge number of vehicles going off the road, it will impact the road connecting Delhi and Mumbai. The number of vehicles on Gujarat’s industrialised zone will reduce, the speed of vehicles will increase and this will take the economic system in top gear,” Mr Modi said.

The service reduces the distance between the two towns from 310 km by road to 30 km, which can be covered in one hour. To start with, two ships — M V Jay Sophia and Island Jed — can take 300 and 239 passengers, including crew members respectively, the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) said.    

The Election Commission had on October 12 announced that polling for the Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh will take place on November 9, but held back the Gujarat polls schedule, only saying that polling in the western state would be held before December 18.

The model code of conduct would have come into immediate effect in Gujarat had the poll schedule been announced along with Himachal Pradesh, the Congress had said.