Next government will face the same problems we did in Parliament: P. Chidambaram

Mar 24 2014, 09:19 IST
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Here are the edited excerpts from an exit interview with Finance Minister P Chidambaram. Reuters Here are the edited excerpts from an exit interview with Finance Minister P Chidambaram. Reuters
SummaryHere are the edited excerpts from an exit interview with Finance Minister P Chidambaram.

account deficit were completely out of line and if we did not take some drastic steps, we were faced with a downgrade.

You made a statement that Parliament will set a target for inflation targeting. So have you come around to the view that India should have inflation targeting rather than the RBI looking at multiple indicators?

Our goal must be price stability and growth. For price stability, the way to go about it is to set an inflation target. That inflation target must be set by the sovereign.

The Urjit Patel report makes a different recommendation. We have made it very clear that we don't agree with that conclusion. Our policy is that the objective of the monetary policy must be price stability and growth.

Has Aadhaar hit a political wall, or did it have bugs?

Aadhaar is in two parts. The issuing of numbers, to half the population, is an enormous achievement. The other is the use of Aadhaar. Now, when we use Aadhaar to transfer scholarships everybody is happy. But when we use Aadhaar for LPG, people are unhappy for different reasons. One group feels, erroneously, that they are not getting subsidies since they are making the payments and then getting reimbursed – it is a matter of communication.

Another group that is unhappy is perhaps a group of dealers who have been diverting the cylinders from a beneficiary to a non-beneficiary. The third group that is unhappy is genuine customers who support Aadhaar-based transfer of LPG benefit but who do not have convenient access to a bank account. We have to work out a system and find another way in which we link the Aadhaar to the dealer and the subsidy is passed on to the oil company without requiring a mandatory link to the bank account.

Are you in favour of extending Aadhaar to a Food Security Act?

If it has run into so many practical or perceptional problems in the matter of LPG subsidy, then there will be even greater perceptional problems when it comes to food subsidy. Ultimately we should extend it, but we must think it through completely.

Do you think it is time to open up the coal sector the way the oil and gas sector have been opened up?

I think the coal sector must be opened up, but we have the coal nationalization act. Unless Parliament revisits that, there is no way it can be opened

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