Addressing a media briefing in New Delhi, Finance Minister in her announcement of the fourth tranche of measures to address the economic situation in the country, due to COVID-19, outlined structural reforms with focus on eight sectors of coal, minerals, defence production, civil aviation, power distribution companies, space sector and atomic energy.
In a major announcement, Ms Sitharaman informed that, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) limit in defence manufacturing under automatic route will be raised from 49 per cent to 74 per cent.
With an aim to boost Make in India, Finance Minister announced that a list of weapons or their parts would no longer be imported and their indigenous production will be ensured within the country. Government will notify year-wise timelines to ban such imports.
Finance Minister announced private sector participation in coal sector through a revenue sharing mechanism. She added that this will introduce competition and transparency in the coal sector. This will also enable bidding for a coal block and selling it in the open market by private bodies. Ms. Sitharaman informed that 50 blocks will be available for bidding at the earliest.
She said, the government is set to introduce a seamless composite exploration-cum-mining-production regime in the country. Ms. Sitharaman added that 500 mining blocks will be offered through an open and transparent auction process. She added, the sectoral reform for mining of minerals will boost growth, employment and bring state-of-the-art technology in the field of exploration in the country.
Announcing a sectoral reform in aviation section, Finance Minister highlighted the issue of only 60 per cent of the Indian airspace being available for commercial flights. She announced easing of restrictions on further utilisation of the air space. The decision will rope in a benefit of Rs 1000 crore for the aviation sector as it will drastically reduce the time and fuel consumed by the commercial flights.
She added that six more airports will be put up for auction under the PPP model bringing in Rs one thousand crore and an additional down payment for them would rope in Rs 2 thousand 300 crore at a later stage. Ms. Sitharaman also announced avenues for additional investment by private players in 12 other airports.
She said the government will rationalise the tax regime for Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MROs) of the Aircrafts in the country. Earlier, the aircrafts had to fly abroad for the MROs.
Ms. Sitharaman informed that the government will release a tariff policy with reforms, including consumer rights, promotion of industry and sustainability of sector for the power distribution companies.
In another major reform, Finance Minister announced that, the government will boost private sector investments in social-infrastructure projects, like hospitals. The total outlay for this has been projected to be Rs 8 thousand crore.
Opening up Indian space sector, the Minister announced, boosting up of private participation in space related activities.
A major push to the decision is aimed at by allowing private sector to use ISRO facilities and other relevant assets to improve their capabilities. Future projects for planetary exploration and outer space travel has also been opened to the private sector. This will also witness liberalisation of geo-spatial data policy for providing remote-sensing data to tech-entrepreneurs, which in turn will open up wide horizon of avenues.