Finance Minister Arun Jaitley highlighted quicker decision making, transparency in governance, acceleration in economic growth, record disinvestment receipts among the key achievements of the first year of the BJP-led NDA government.
Speaking to the media on Friday, he said: “Decisiveness, even in the face of obstructionism, has been a hallmark of this government.”
As the NDA government draws closer to completing a year in power on Monday, the FM said that hope and excitement has replaced a general environment of gloom that preceded a year of NDA’s rule.
He said growth enhancing decisions are being taken and pointed out the initiatives taken in sectors such as power, coal and mining.
Jaitley highlighted that the government’s priority in the next session of Parliament will be the passage of GST and Land bills. He added that high taxation rates are never investor or economy friendly and the government has taken measures to bring direct taxation rates to globally competitive levels.
He also touched upon the niggling issue of tax issues and said, “We are working in the direction of resolving legacy issues plaguing taxation.”
The government, which had promised to sort out retrospective capital gains tax demands related to past transactions, had been grappling with issues related to Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT). Even as the FM had sought to solve the issue for future transactions, several foreign investors have been slapped with pending MAT dues.
The issues highlighted at the press conference were similar to the FM’s Facebook post on May 19, where he wrote about the crony capitalism that defined the previous government and how the BJP-led NDA political alliance has ushered in a corruption free government.
The FM also pointed at the government’s role in accelerating growth and keeping the current account deficit and fiscal deficit in check.
“Management of the fiscal deficit and quality of that deficit were much better during the last one year as compared to UPA government, as there was no hidden fiscal deficit,” Jaitley said.
He also noted that the government managed to generate the highest ever disinvestment receipts in a single financial year by raising Rs 24,277 crore during 2014-15.
The FM also talked about the new social insurance scheme launched recently and said the MUDRA Bank initiative is expected to finance 5.77 crore small entrepreneurs in the country.
Jaitley added that in the coming years the government will increase spending in irrigation and rural infrastructure.
“It has been a directional year and that too at a very fast pace,” he signed off.
While international agencies have been pegging India’s growth at 7.5-8 per cent this year with India set to be the fastest growing large economy in the world, much of this is to do with new way of calculating GDP and tailwinds from lower crude oil price. Lower fuel price has not just helped contain fiscal and current account deficit, but also reined in inflation and set the stage for interest rate cuts to boost growth.
However, investors are worried that the pace of reforms may be stalled as the government has not been able to manoeuvre key reform legislations through the upper house of the Parliament, where it does not enjoy a majority.
The achievements of the new government is now closely hinged on how it brings through a political consensus to see through GST and land bills and initiates crucial labour reforms.