Modi's policies eschew populism, enjoy public support: Jaitley

Asserts criticism comes only from “opportunistic Congress” and “some leaders with a personal agenda” in India

Updated - December 03, 2021 10:43 am IST

Published - October 15, 2017 09:03 pm IST - WASHINGTON:

We struck a blow to the shadowy economy that the Congress helped flourish, says Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

We struck a blow to the shadowy economy that the Congress helped flourish, says Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Criticism of Narendra Modi’s economic policies were originating from only two segments in India — “opportunistic Congress” and “some leaders with a personal agenda,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, adding that the government had massive public support for its policies. “After demonetization, we won the U.P elections. Now, after GST, we will see what happens in Gujarat. The fact is that people are appreciating our policies, and criticism is coming only from two quarters,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.

At the same time, the Narendra Modi government has spurned populism to pursue structural economic reforms when the going was good, and the fruits of those efforts will soon be visible as the world economy is on an upswing again, Mr. Jaitley has said. The Finance Minister was reviewing with reporters his U.S tour, during which he interacted with a dozen groups of investors and opinion makers across three cities and attended the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“Populism is what we did not indulge in. We could have allowed the shadowy economy to go on as it was. But we struck a blow to that kind of economy,” he said, characterizing demonetization as an effort at changing the structure of the Indian economy. “That is the kind of economy the Congress helped flourish.”

Mr. Jaitley said reports about the government planning a stimulus package was misinterpretation of a statement he made. “I had said we would respond appropriately. It has been interpreted by you [the media] as something else,” he said, adding that indications of an uptick in growth was already visible. Earlier in the day, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde had said the Indian economy was on a “very solid track” though it has lowered the growth estimates for India this year by 0.5 percentage points. Mr. Jaitley did not comment on interests rate revisions, saying the RBI “is a mature institution” that would take a decision.

‘India’s ties with Iran strong’

India has a stable and strong partnership with Iran, Mr. Jaitley who met his Iranian counterpart Masoud Karbasian on the sidelines of the IMF-World Bank meetings, said.

The U.S has announced a more confrontational policy with Tehran last week. “India has a stable relationship with Iran which is also a strategic relationship. We are building a port there, which will connect not only Iran but also to Afghanistan and further. We discussed bilateral issues such as pending oil payments,” the Finance Minister said, avoiding a direct comment on the new Iran policy announced by President Donald Trump. He also refused to comment on a Twitter post by Mr. Trump that said he was “developing a better relationship” with Pakistan.

‘H-1B workers contribute to U.S. economy’

Mr. Jaitley said he told U..S interlocutors — Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin — that Indian workers who come to the U.S on temporary H-1B visas are not “illegal economic migrants,” and are productive contributors to the U.S economy.

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