Govt working on reforms for services sector: Kher

To make India's services sector more competitive, government is working on reform measures in areas like legal and healthcare and will soon finalise a Cabinet note on that, a top official said Tuesday.

New Delhi: To make India's services sector more competitive, government is working on reform measures in areas like legal and healthcare and will soon finalise a Cabinet note on that, a top official said Tuesday.

"Couple of years ago, we constituted an inter-ministerial entity for identifying and working on reforms which are required in various services areas in terms of legislation, practice, procedures, etc," Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher told reporters here.

"That process has worked to a point now. We are rolling out consultation at the inter-ministerial level and committee of secretaries and then obviously we will take it to the logical Cabinet decision," he added.

India has implemented several free trade agreements in goods and services, but services exports still face issues related with mutual recognition agreements.

On the other hand, foreign professionals in legal and accountancy services can't work in India.

Against this backdrop, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to inaugurate a global exhibition on services in April.

Kher said the government is working on reforms "with the whole intention of making them more competitive".

He added: "We have broken good ground. Now we are working on legal services, we are working on educational services, we are working on healthcare services areas and therefore both the things are happening at same time."

On the retail sector, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government's position is clear on the matter.

"In multi-brand, there are no applications for FDI waiting in the line for me to respond," she said.

She also said that like the Hannover fair in Germany is famous globally for engineering sector fair, the ministry will work in similar way for the services exhibiting here.

The government wants to give equal importance to services along with manufacturing, she said, adding: "Is services sector being promoted at the cost of manufacturing. No. We see synergy between the two".

When asked about RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan's comment on 'Make in India', Sitharaman said: "I am not sure that the RBI governor's intention was to say 'Make in India' vs 'Make for India'. You make for India or make for anybody else, all that we are talking about is please make in India.

"You may export, you may sell in the country that does not matter. There are no contradictions in that."

When asked about the key take-aways from the 3-day India visit of US President Barack Obama that concluded today, Sitharaman said that it has lifted the economic and strategic relations of both the countries to higher levels.

On the nuclear deal, she said: "We actually now in a way made the deal operationalised... It was signed in 2010. It was largely inoperational and after this visit, that deal has become operational."

She added that MoUs were signed to make three smart cities and ways to further increase investments in India was discussed in a bilateral meeting with US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker today.

"With the increasing engagement, trade will increase from USD 100 billion. This visit has direct positive impact on trade in merchandise and services," she said.

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