The Centre will ‘very soon’ disclose its strategy to revive moribund private investment, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Thursday.
Mr. Jaitley has held several discussions with top officials and ministers on tackling the slowdown in the economy, this week.
The Finance Minister, who is expected to brief Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon on the options available for revitalising the economy’s growth momentum, conceded that ‘there is a problem’ of private investment.
‘Seized of the issue’
“The government is seized of the issue and very soon, you will hear from us. From day one, this is a proactive government,” Mr. Jaitley said addressing the India Investor Summit 2017 organised by J.P.Morgan in the capital.
“We are analysing the economic indicators and appropriate action will be taken at the right time,” he said.
Stressing that the impact of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on inflation had been contained so far, Mr. Jaitley said among the sectors currently excluded from GST, real estate could be brought under the new indirect tax regime ‘most easily’. The Minister’s comment suggests that the inclusion of other products currently outside GST’s purview, such as petroleum and alcohol, would take more time.
Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had recently said his Ministry had proposed bringing petroleum products under the purview of GST in ‘consumer interest’ to ensure a uniform tax mechanism, instead of the current dispensation where States levy a value-added tax (VAT) and the Centre levies excise.
Claiming that corruption had become ‘a thing of the past’ in the Union government, Mr. Jaitley said the same was happening in States as well. “The government has taken quick decisions, whether it is implementing GST or targeting subsidies.”
“As far as black money, benami transactions, etcetera are concerned, it is no more safe in India to deal in excessive cash,” Mr. Jaitley asserted, even as the remonetisation of the economy, following the scrapping of high-value currency notes last November, was ‘substantially completed.’
The Minister said the government ‘never had any reservations about privatisation’ and had an ambitious target for disinvestment this year. The ministerial group on ailing national carrier Air India’s sale had held a meeting on Thursday, Mr. Jaitley informed investors.
“In last few years, market was quite volatile at times, so the government has to wait for the right time for the disinvestment,” he said.
Mr. Jaitley said while he was ‘personally in favour of’ a Universal Basic Income, the only reservation he had about implementing such a programme was ‘the level of political maturity’ in India.