Confident of support from regional parties like SP, BSP and DMK, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today hoped that the GST Bill will be approved in the monsoon session of Parliament and said the government will not relent on crackdown against corruption to win Congress backing.
As the NDA government completes two years in office, Jaitley painted a rosy picture of the economy, saying growth could accelerate further to 10 per cent as bad loan situation is improving and all steps have been taken to dig out black money.
The minister further said that since the NDA came to power, the country has been “definitely witnessing good days” compared to the days of scam and corruption and “policy paralysis” that marked the UPA regime.
Speaking at two separate events during the day, Jaitley said that because of the decisive leadership provided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the past two years, India has emerged as a ‘bright spot or sweet spot’ while other major economies are facing a slowdown.
The economic growth rate, the minister said, could accelerate to 10 per cent on the back of good monsoon and global tailwinds.
“If the growth momentum continues for another 10-20 years, it would be possible to remove the scourge of poverty,” Jaitley asserted.
Fielding questions on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, which is pending in the Rajya Sabha because of stiff opposition from the Congress, the minister said regional parties, including UPA allies like DMK and NCP, are all making strong noises in support of the tax legislation.
“I am reasonably confident because… every political party, including Congress, favours the GST. In fact, Congress should have had the vision to support it more aggressively because they could claim the original authorship of the idea,” Jaitley said when asked if he was confident of passing the Bill in the monsoon session.
“So, whether it is SP or BSP in Uttar Pradesh, JD(U) or RJD in Bihar, the Left in West Bengal and Kerala, the Trinamool in West Bengal, BJD…, each one of the UPA partners from DMK to NCP is making strong noises in support,” he added.
Moreover, he added, when it comes to the crunch, “it would be extremely difficult even for the Congress party to take a contrarian view”.
Probed further on the possibility of political support for pending Bills, the minister said the government will not compromise on fight against corruption to get the legislations approved by Parliament.
“Is that the democracy of this country so vulnerable that we should compromise with such a kind of corruption because we have to pass two Bills… we will fight corruption also and also get our Bills passed,” he added.
“So far, in these two years of the Modi government, we have passed more than 90 laws. In the just-concluded session last week, a total of 24 bills (were passed) in the Upper House. So, if one or two remains without clearance, we will look into it.”
He expressed confidence in get those legislations passed in the next session, “but to say that since we have to get the Bills passed, we will allow political blackmail and should compromise with corruption, at least we will not accept that”.
On job creation, Jaitley said the government is trying to create employment by providing loans to the unorganised sector.
Under Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana, banks last year have disbursed loans to 3.32 crore beneficiaries in the unorganised sector “which will provide jobs to many”.
He pointed to limited jobs in the structured industry, adding that only two crore jobs are created.
IMF has projected India as the fastest-growing economy in the world while the World Bank has termed India as a bright spot.
“We can grow up to 10 per cent if global tailwinds are favourable. Amid a global slowdown, if we are growing at 7.5-8 per cent, we are the fastest-growing economy in the world,” he said.
“This has to be kept in mind that growth during the last two years of the Modi government, we have become the fastest growing economy of the world. This feat was not ever achieved during the UPA regime.”
On incentives to tax payers, Jaitley’s take was that the government is trying to increase the tax base so that the tax rate can come down.
With the help of TDS and other tax measures, the government has increased the tax payer base to 5.5-5.75 crore.
“More number of tax payers will result in reasonable tax rate for individual tax payers,” he reasoned.