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Govt nod to Rs5,000 crore plan to promote service industries

(From left) Union ministers Maneka Gandhi, Suresh Prabhu and Ravi Shankar Prasad at a press briefing on the cabinet meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government on Wednesday announced a Rs5,000 crore scheme to promote key services industries, doubled the guarantee given to lenders financing procurement of pulses and oilseeds and extended a scheme supporting non-farm self-employment by another three years.

The cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, decided to promote 12 sectors, including information technology (IT) and IT-enabled services, tourism and hospitality, medical value travel, logistics and transport, financial, accounting and legal services and construction services so that their full growth potential is realized.

Services now account for more than half of India’s close to $2.6 trillion economy.

The idea is to increase the competitiveness of the services sector, add jobs and step up services exports.

The cabinet doubled the government guarantee for procurement of pulses and oilseeds at support prices by the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED). The guarantee to lender banks for providing credit to NAFED was raised from Rs9,500 crore to Rs19,000 crore.

As the market price of almost all pulses and oilseeds are currently below the minimum support price (MSP), the government guarantee will help in protecting farmers from resorting to distress sales, said an official statement.

Farmers have been battered by low crop prices following record harvests in 2016 and 2017. The situation is worse for farmers growing pulses and oilseeds because government procurement is not significant enough to raise wholesale prices.

The cabinet committee on economic affairs, which also met on Wednesday, decided to continue the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) for another three years to 2019-20 with an outlay of Rs5,500 crore. The extension of the scheme is expected to add 15 lakh jobs. The scheme, which is meant to create self-employment for traditional artisans and unemployed youth by way of helping to create small enterprises in the non-farm sector has so far financed 4.55 lakh micro enterprises and provided jobs to about 38 lakh persons since its inception in 2008-09, the statement said.

The cabinet decided to table in Parliament a new Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018. The bill seeks to prevent trafficking as well as to rescue and rehabilitate victims.

The cabinet also agreed to have an economic and trade cooperation deal with Vietnam and cleared a few deals with Jordan on business, customs and manpower.

Sayantan Bera and Elizabeth Roche contributed to this story.

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