Following is the text of Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh’s remarks at the meeting of the High Level Committee on Manufacturing, in New Delhi today:

“Today, we have discussed some important areas which are critical for the growth of manufacturing in our country and also for keeping our country at the frontiers of science & technology.

I would like to thank Dr. Krishnamurthy and his team at the National Manufacturing Competitive Council for their excellent work towards improving the capabilities of our manufacturing sector. They have been tracking the investment programme of Central Public Sector Undertakings, thus helping in boosting investment in the economy. They have also been helping in resolving the problems of individual sectors by bringing them to the notice of the Ministries concerned.

Manufacturing has to be the backbone of our growth strategy over the next decade. We are witnessing a major shift in the structure of our economy. Agriculture, which continues to account for more than 50% of our population, today constitutes less than 15% of our GDP. If we have to grow at 8-9% in the future, this has to come through sustained growth in manufacturing, particularly labour-intensive manufacturing. Manufacturing and manufacturing alone can absorb all those who need better livelihood opportunities.

There are certain manufacturing sectors which have undoubtedly done well over the last 20 years. Automobiles, auto-components, pharmaceuticals, metals and cement are some such areas which quickly come to one’s mind.

However, we have not been able to leverage our strengths both in traditional industries and in emerging sectors to the extent we could have. We hardly have any manufacturing capabilities in electronics and telecommunications. Often, our production is at the lower end of the value chain. Our exports consist of raw materials and primary goods and our imports consist overwhelmingly of manufacturing.

We need to remedy this situation by removing the bottlenecks that hinder our progress in Manufacturing and taking full advantage of our strengths.

In the Steel and Textile sectors, there is a need to ramp up output and I suggest that the Ministries act on the lines proposed and come up with Action Plans.

On Electric and Hybrid transport, Civilian Aircraft production and Advanced Materials, I agree that we should start working for the future, even if it takes time and even though there are uncertainties on the horizon. The groups proposed can do their work and take these ideas forward.”

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