Arun Jaitley underlines need to contain inflation, boost growth

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 1 2014, 23:16pm hrs
ArunArun Jaitley underlined the need to contain price rise and hasten economic reforms to boost low-cost manufacturing.
Attributing the present economic woes to a "decade of jobless growth", Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today underlined the need to contain price rise and hasten economic reforms to boost low-cost manufacturing.

"Reviving the growth momentum, containing inflation and altering the pattern of growth to gainful employment is today an overriding priority," he said in his Facebook post summing up his one week in office.

India's economic growth stayed below 5 per cent for the second year in a row at 4.7 per cent in 2013-14, mainly due to decline in manufacturing and mining output. Growth remained subdued at 4.6 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year.

"There is a need to boost domestic low-cost manufacturing and hasten the pace of reforms. Price stability and growth are intertwined but may require a different strategy. This will involve fiscal rectitude as a combination of monetary and fiscal policy," he said.

Many key economic reforms including increasing FDI in the insurance sector, implementation of Goods and Services Tax, and the Direct Taxes Code remained in limbo in the last UPA government.

Hinting at immediate measures to be taken to strengthen the economy, he said "short-term (fiscal) disciplining till we reverse the present trend will give us long-term benefits".

He emphasised that there is a need to move towards an era of fiscal discipline with objective to reduce fiscal deficit, contain inflation and improve growth rate.

"We must commit ourselves to this discipline so that in order to strengthen the Indian economy which can improve the quality of life of every Indian and pull out the deprived ones from the state of poverty," he said.

Noting that the investment cycle has been disturbed, he said the manufacturing sector has had an abysmal performance last year. The negative sentiment has affected trade, hotels and transportation sectors which are posed for a slower growth compared to last year.

"The slowdown in economic growth coupled with high inflationary pressure poses a challenge to the macro economic environment.... India can ill afford this trend. This has serious social consequences since slowdown comes with a decade of jobless growth," he said.

As per the CSO estimates released in May, inflation continues to be rising with April figure at 8.9 per cent.

Jaitley said tax collections have come down to 10.1 per cent of the GDP compared to the initial budget estimates of 10.9 per cent.

"Slower GDP growth will imply lower tax buoyancy and higher fiscal deficit," he said.

Jaitelys remarks come two days ahead of the Reserve Bank's monetary policy review which is widely expected to keep policy rate unchanged in its bid to fight inflation.

Highlighting that the victory of NDA and the significant electoral setback to the Congress was on account of the reflection of two different electoral attitudes, he said there was a high level of dissatisfaction with the previous government.

Another important reason, he said, there was hope in the BJP/NDA led by Narendra Modi.

"It is this hope which commands us to pull the country out of the present economic situation," he added.