India can become a much cleaner and bigger economy among the emerging economies as it has the capacity to implement bold decisions and scale them up efficiently, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said. He also said that India has become one of the most open and globally integrated economies at a time when other economies are turning protectionist. “All the steps including financial inclusion, demonetisation, the Goods and Services tax to the direct tax incentive, each one of this falls into place where brick by brick you lay down the structure in order to integrate an informal economy into a much larger formal economy,” he said as he addressed American investors for the first time since the implementation of major reforms like the GST. “I think amongst emerging economies India today has a potential for not only being a large market, but being a much cleaner economy a much bigger economy, which is now capable of taking and implementing these big ideas further,” Jaitley said. He was addressing a New York audience at an event organised by US-India Business Council in partnership with the Confederation of India Industries.
Jaitley told investors that India now has the capacity to implement bold decisions and scale them up efficiently.
He also highlighted the large number of infrastructure projects that the government is working on and the need to widen the tax base for the country’s overall economic health. “Incremental changes always take place. But, this works out to a particular pattern and I think today India has acquired the capacity and ability to perceive these big ideas and to be able to implement these big ideas,” he said. “Of course, these big ideas can in the transition stages throw up challenges,” he said. He noted that the manufacturing went down for some time after the implementation of the GST as people wanted to get rid of their existing stocks. “So there will be some transient impacts which will take place but those transient impacts really don’t effect the long term roadmap which India has acquired,” Jaitley said.
Responding to questions, Jaitley said the impression that there is continuous decline of Indian rupee is an overstatement. “Rupee finds its own value. There are events globally which do impact currencies,” he said. “But rupee eventually finds its own level and it has found its own level,” he said. Infrastructure is still a sector where India still has a long way to go. “As I speak to you today, we have two hundred and fifty highways under construction. At any given point of time, a sector which had conventionally slowed down about three to four years ago, this fact alone would indicate the magnitude of the activity, which we have really undertaken as far as the infrastructure space is concerned,” the finance minister said.
Jaitley said rural India is still behind and that is part of the inequality that still exists in India. India, he said, is one country where there is no debate on protectionism. “If there’s one country in the world where you will find that this debate doesn’t exist today, that’s India. Even when we were opening out in 1991, we were apprehensive. But having enjoyed the fruits of that investment getting into India this is now being universally regarded as an additional oddity of investment into India,” he said.