Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) was the final arbiter in decision-making under the National Democratic Alliance regime.
This, he said, was in stark contrast to the ‘marginalisation’ of the PMO during the last decade where decision-making ‘lay with those outside the government.’
In the wake of reports about the influence of the RSS on the Narendra Modi government, Mr. Jaitley, addressing the India Economic Convention here, said: “There is no outside interference in the working of the Modi government. The PM unquestionably has the last word. No government, no Finance Minister or any other Minister can ever implement a series of changes and reforms without the full backing of the Prime Minister.”‘A wasted decade’
He said the last decade under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was a “wasted decade” like that of 1970s and 1980s because decision-making ‘shifted out’ of the PMO. “The political model of governance in India had got skewed because the Prime Ministerial Office itself, which should be the last decision-making body in the country and must have the final say, had been marginalised.”
Mr. Jaitley said the present government was clear on the direction that economic governance must take. “We have sought to restructure the model of governance which takes the burden of employment off a fragile agriculture sector. One, which forces the pace of development of the services and urban sectors and builds a vibrant manufacturing sector.”
The Minister said kick-starting the manufacturing sector was one of the various challenges to the economy. “If we can handle our manufacturing sector, its ability to absorb a number of people coming from rural India and adding to India’s growth story is going to be much larger.”
He said more resources were being allocated to the farm sector and infrastructure from the savings that declining oil prices in the global market had made possible. “We have used the reduction in oil prices. The percentage of subsidy as part of GDP has declined; this has enabled us to shift a large part of our resources into infrastructure.”Ease of doing business
Mr. Jaitley said the ease of doing business was a work in progress. “Today, there is no sector of the economy which is saying I am being harassed. The procedures have been rationalised. But then, the entire regulatory and other systems have to prepare themselves much faster for this change.”
In order to promote the ease of doing business, the government was working on areas such as bankruptcy code, disputes resolution in major contracts, expeditious arbitration proceedings and a public procurement law.GST issue
Mr. Jaitley also said that while a number of pending tax disputes had been resolved, the government was trying if others could be addressed through either judicial or executive resolution over the next few days.
The Finance Minister said the issue of Goods and Services Tax was stuck for political reasons but assured investors that many reforms were in the pipeline.