India working on new manufacturing policy

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has convened a meeting on June 2 of senior ministers to give a direction for firming up the policy. Its draft prepared by the industry ministry has suggested flexibility in labour laws and changes in environment norms in big industrial enclaves.

"The June 2 meeting is confirmed," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told PTI. Sharma is leading a CII delegation for the 'India Show' in the run-up to India-Africa Forum Meeting to be attended by Singh.

It has been more than a year that the industry ministry is trying to evolve a consensus on its draft manufacturing policy. However, there have been concerns from the environment and labour ministries on the issue of flexibilities for employers to downsize the workforce in the proposed National Manufacturing Investment Zones (NMIZs) - big enclaves which could even subsume special economic zones.

India aims to increase the share of the manufacturing sector that contributes over 80 per cent to the country's overall industrial production, from 16-17 per cent to 25-26 per cent of the gross domestic product by 2020.

Likewise, it recommends changes in the environment norms, which at present come in the way of investment. The DIPP, an industry ministry arm, had floated a concept paper for setting up NMIZs, which are being planned as mega industrial zones, industrial parks and warehousing units.

The policy aims to attract overseas investments besides increasing the share of manufacturing in the economy. Sharma has said that increasing the manufacturing share in the economy is a priority as millions of skilled workforce are expected to join the segment in the near future.

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