Panagariya flays govt's move to curb imports

Panagariya flays govt's move to curb imports

Arvind Panagariya. PTI

Days after the Centre formed a high-level task force to look for ways to reduce India's dependence on imports, one of its former top advisers Arvind Panagariya on Wednesday fiercely criticised the move, saying it threatened to return India from the “turnpike” on which it was travelling on to the “dirt road”.

Panagariya was the first vice chairman of the Centre's think-tank Niti Aayog set up by the NDA government in 2014, who resigned from his post mid-way through his career and returned to New York.

In a blog, he also attacked the present government for its assertion that 'Make in India' was for the world, saying in reality it was “Make in India for India”.

Earlier this month, the Centre constituted a high-level task force under Chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha to identify various items and policy interventions to reduce India's dependence on imports, which will suggest ways to cut import of those items which can be manufactured or explored in the country.

Panagariya called the government's latest measure “a mistake”, whose impact could be felt only gradually.

“We will not feel the impact of our mistake immediately. But if we stay the current course, we will eventually find ourselves on the dirt road. Then, no matter how powerful the engine of our vehicle, we will slow down,” the Columbia University professor said.

The 65-year-old Indian-American economist also recalled the 1991 economic liberalisation that sought to end import licensing on all products other than consumer goods and how India completely dismantled the import licensing regime under the UPA government.

He said there was a deep connect between rapid economic growth and expansion of exports and imports. Panagariya warned that there was no wisdom in producing goods at home, which India could buy abroad at a lower cost using its export earnings.

Panagariya suggested “rather than appoint a task force to find ways to curb imports, our strategy should be to appoint a task force to devise strategies to expand exports and to do so on a war footing”.

 

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