New Delhi, July 10 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi today asked states to accord top priority to ‘ease of doing business’ to take advantage of the golden opportunity as the world wants to partner with India.

Interacting with chief secretaries of states and union territories for over two-and-a-half hours here, Modi underlined the need for maximising use of the 12-digit biometric identifier Aadhaar to improve governance and eliminate leakages in government schemes.

Observing that the whole world today has trust in India and wants to partner with it, he said, “This is a golden opportunity for us” and the states must accord top priority to improve on “ease of doing business” to attract more investments.

Modi’s interaction was part of the National Conference of Chief Secretaries on the theme of “States as Drivers for Transforming India” organised by Niti Aayog. This is the first time that the prime minister has addressed such a gathering at such an event.

Briefing media after the day-long meeting, Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya said the prime minister told the state representatives to make full use of Aadhaar platform for good governance and eliminate leakages in government welfare schemes.

Modi also asked the states to maximise the use of government’s e-Marketplace (GeM) by August 15, saying it would provide efficiency, savings and transparency in government procurement.

The prime minister further said that good governance is the key to success for government programmes and development goals.

He said “relatively junior officers” in states must spend adequate time in field visits, so that they have first-hand information about the issues on the ground.

Panagariya said Modi also asked states to identify problems, say five, and ensure they are fully resolved.

Answering questions on farm loan waiver by some states, the Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman said states have to manage it within their budgets.

“You have to wait and see how is this handled … These are determined by state-level FRBM, and any relaxation about borrowing has to be given by central government, and given central government itself is conservative about its own fiscal, for last three years it has been following fiscal roadmap…,” he said.

Chief Secretaries gave presentations on best practices in their states. These included rural development, skill development, crop insurance, health insurance, and tertiary healthcare, among others.

The prime minister said a team of young officers from across states should now deliberate and learn from these best practices, by visiting each state.

These will help in efficient adoption of best practices across states, Modi said.

He gave the example of monthly PRAGATI meetings, which had given a decisive push to many long-pending projects. He urged states to come out of the silos, and work cohesively with the Centre and which each other.

Speaking on ‘Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat’, Modi said “we must always recall the factors which unite us”.

Modi underlined emphasised on the importance of preserving institutional memory. He said writing of Gazettes by officers should be made compulsory in the districts.

Speaking at the meeting, Panagariya made a strong case for shifting workers from agriculture to industry and encourage small enterprises to grow big with a view to accelerate economic growth.

He said that at the aggregate macro level, bringing about rapid growth is most critical as no major success in poverty alleviation is likely to happen without it.

“If we set the output per worker in agriculture equal to 1, then output per worker in industry is 5 and that in services 3.8.

“In other words, even at the current productivity levels in each sector, moving one percentage-point workers out of agriculture into industry can increase the GDP by 1.5 per cent,” Panagariya said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.