Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma on Friday said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would chair a high-level committee meeting next week to discuss and clear the draft of the new mega ‘Manufacturing Policy' which is likely to be unveiled before March 31.

“We have concluded the discussions with the stakeholders and also inter-ministerial consultations have been done. We have discussed the matter with the Environment and Forest Ministry as well as the Labour Ministry. The Prime Minister has agreed to chair the high-level meeting next week to enable us to announce this mega industrial policy by March 31 which will go a long way in making India the workshop of the world for new technologies,” Mr. Sharma told a group of visiting Indian journalists here.

“The new manufacturing policy will create new mega investment and manufacturing zones across the country which will lead to integrated development of various regions. The Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, has already conveyed his support for the Manufacturing Policy and with the support of the Prime Minister it will be unveiled soon,” he added.

Stating that the new policy was an ambitious project and aimed at helping India achieve objectives on skilled labour and employment generation, Mr. Sharma said in order to avoid any kind of hiccups he had taken on board the Environment and Labour Ministries. The policy aims at making India a manufacturing hub and creating potential employment. Although, the policy was to be announced by January this year, it was decided to delay it further in order to ensure wider consultations with various stakeholders, he added.

“We are keen on ensuring that the share of manufacturing in gross domestic product (GDP) is increased from the present 15 per cent to at least 25 per cent during the next nine years of this decade. We are working on creating this mega industrial policy to ensure jobs for the nearly 100 million skilled workforce that is expected to be eligible for jobs in India during the next decade,” he said.

At present, India's growth of manufacturing is slow as compared to the G7 countries such as Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S. Mr. Sharma said his Ministry was seeking to dovetail the training modules into the whole new initiative and for that lot of cooperation was being sought from countries like Germany, Sweden, Singapore and Switzerland.

“Expressing disappointment and surprise at the imposition of Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) on special economic zones (SEZs), Mr. Sharma said the understanding with the Finance Minister was that the policy would be aligned with the new Direct Taxes code (DTC) regime to be put in place by next year. “Some of the present benefits for the SEZ units will remain available till 2012 but we must ensure that there is stability in the policy regime as it is an important aspect to attract more foreign direct investment (FDI),” he added.

On the India-EU FTA, Mr. Sharma said it was in the final stages and after both the sides conclude their positions and reach a broader agreement, it should be given a go-ahead for final signing of the treaty later this year.