A day before his much-anticipated second cabinet reshuffle, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday interacted with a select group of journalists on wide-ranging issues, from the rejig itself to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill that is likely to come up in the monsoon session of Parliament, later this month.
Here are a few key takeaways from what the PM said:
1) Social Sector Reforms
Although Modi listed several reforms including the liberalisation of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) regime, the bankruptcy code and the passage of the real estate bill among his government’s achievements in the last two years, he told The Economic Timesthat a lot more remains to be done on the social sector front.
“My aim is to ensure that no village in India is without electricity, the electricity sector is financially viable, the nation has adequate power for industrialisation, and India leads the world in renewable energy,” he told ET. “We will provide a stable and predictable regime with moderate tax rates, with courteous treatment of honest taxpayers. This will be combined with an expansion of the tax base, reduction in exemptions and stern measures against black money and tax evasion,” the PM said.
2) No To Populism
Modi said that, in the last two years, his government had avoided populist policies. “We have eschewed populism and stuck to a path of fiscal prudence,” he told the Business Standard newspaper.
3) Rubs In On GST
While not committing to any deadlines for the passage of the controversial and long-delayed GST bill, the prime minister said that blocking the legislation would be politically inexpedient for any party. “I do not think any political party will try to commit suicide by opposing GST,” he said.
4) Winning Sceptics
Yet, the PM said that despite his government’s several achievements, he had failed to convince a section of the media about his government’s intent. “My regret is that in the last two years, I have not been able to convince or persuade that section regarding our point of view. My challenge is to win over these sceptics, and persuade them of our sincerity and good intentions,” he told The Indian Express.
5) Make In India Happening
Modi said that his flagship ‘Make in India’ programme had begun to bear fruit. He listed the setting up of a railway locomotive unit in Bihar by GE and Alstom as among the initiative’s successes. He told the Hindustan Times that automobile exports had increased and said that the induction of the locally built Tejas fighter aircraft into the Indian Air Force was another indication that domestic manufacturing had begun to pick up.
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