Govt says CWG may add $5 bn to economy, create 2.5 mn jobs

New Delhi: The government today said the ongoing Commonwealth Games (CWG) may add about $5 billion to the Indian economy and create about 2.5 million jobs in the next few years, reports PTI.

Inviting the business community of Commonwealth nations to invest in India, minister of state for agriculture and consumer affairs K V Thomas said opportunities for business during sports events are very large.

"It is estimated that the (Commonwealth) Games will have an economic outcome of close to $5 billion over the next few years and succeed in adding 2.5 million new jobs. In fact, we will be gaining from this event for the next many years," Mr Thomas said at the Commonwealth Business Forum here.

He said the 12-day-long games will create a new brand image for India as a global player, helping it strengthen and deepen the business partnership with Commonwealth countries.

"The opportunities for business during sports events are very large. In Delhi, itself, the estimates for the city infrastructure, sports venues and other necessities stand at close to $10 billion," he said.

Mr Thomas said sectors like agriculture, infrastructure, modern technology, manufacturing and services have huge opportunities and potential for the 71-nation Commonwealth grouping.

"The business opportunities derived from agriculture in India are enormous and not sufficiently exploited by overseas businesses. India has 14 agri zones and is capable of producing a wide variety of grains, fruits and vegetables," he added.

He said India faces a large technology deficit in terms of agriculture productivity.

"Our yields are far lower per unit area than that of other countries. This has implications for companies in technology and machinery, agri inputs such as fertilisers, biotechnology and other areas," Mr Thomas said.

"The absorption capacity of the Indian farming sector for such technology and advanced equipment is high," he said.

He said that with the country's economy likely to grow by over 10 per cent in the next few decades, "This is the time to be in India, this is time to invest in India and this is the time to partner India's development saga."

Two-way trade between India and Commonwealth nations currently stands at about $80 billion, which is expected to grow manifold in the coming years.


Financial inclusion not an option, a compulsion: Rangarajan

Jaipur: Stressing that "financial inclusion is no longer an option, but a compulsion", Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC) chairman C Rangarajan today said growth of the bank-SHG (Self Help Group) linkage programme would give a boost to the micro finance sector, reports PTI.

Delivering the key note address at a seminar here on microfinance and financial inclusion, Rangarajan said that expansion of the business correspondents programme would also contribute to growth of the sector.

"Bank-SHG linkage programme and expansion of business correspondents model will constitute the main pillars of the future development of bank-related micro finance, even as other forms of micro finance institution will continue to grow," Mr Rangarajan said.

"The bank-SHG linkage scheme has proved to be an effective way of providing credit to very small borrowers and this needs to be further strengthened. This has worked well and has contributed significantly to financial inclusion, as the financial inclusion attained through SHGs is sustainable and scalable on account of its various positive features," he said.

"One of the distinctive features of the programme has been the high recovery rate. However, the spread of SHGs is very uneven and is more concentrated in southern states. This regional imbalance needs to be corrected," the former RBI governor said.

He said that in order to increase the outreach of the banking sector, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has permitted banks to use the service of specified institutions as intermediaries for providing banking services.

However, Mr Rangarajan said it is regrettable that the scheme has not taken off in a big way.

"The business facilitator and correspondent model needs to be effectively implemented, as the model has high potential. Banks must take the initiative to remove the obstacles that come in the way of an extended use of facilitators and correspondents," Mr Rangarajan said.

"The recent announcement of the RBI to allow the corporates with a wide network of retail outlets to become business correspondents is a welcome step," he said.

"However, one critical issue in the effective use of this model revolves around as to who should bear the additional transaction costs resulting from the employment of facilitators and correspondents. This, of course, depends upon the level of use.

"When large transactions, such as those involved in the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), are entrusted to the banks with compensation, the scheme can take off," he said.

He also suggested ways to strengthening the banking sector in rural areas.

Mr Rangarajan said that rural branches must go beyond merely providing credit and suggested that in districts where the population per branch is much higher that the national average, commercial banks should be encouraged to open branches.

He said that a simplified document for the grant of small loans must also be evolved.

He also focused on issues related to the average size of loans, low cost institutions having a rural bias, local feel and pro-poor focus and the role of technology.

"In the task of making service available to everyone, technology has an important role to play. The required outreach into interiors with low operational cost is only possible with the use of appropriate technology," he said.

"Technology has to be leveraged to create channels beyond branch networks to reach the unbanked and to extend to them banking services similar to those dispensed from branches," he said.


Ramalinga Raju quizzed by CBI in Satyam case

Hyderabad: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today questioned Satyam founder and former chairman B Ramalinga Raju to further probe the multi-crore accounting scam in the IT firm, reports PTI.

Mr Raju, the prime accused in the Satyam fraud case, reached the CBI office at around 1000 hours and is likely to be questioned till afternoon, a senior CBI official told PTI.

The investigating agency had yesterday served a notice to Mr Raju, summoning him for further questioning into the 2008 scam where he is the prime accused.

According to sources, the questions will revolve around the alleged fund diversion from Satyam Computers to some foreign countries to which the CBI has sent Letters Rogatory (LR) and is waiting for the reply.

Mr Raju was discharged from the NIMS hospital here last week where he was undergoing treatment for Hepatitis-C and heart problems since September.


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