Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Sunday that the government will amend the stringent land acquisition law, even without the support of the Opposition.
In a speech here, hours ahead of the Cabinet reshuffle exercise, Jaitley also expressed hope that reforms, including the passage of long-pending Insurance Laws Amendment Bill that seeks to raise the FDI cap in the sector to 49 per cent, and the new indirect tax regime, Goods and Services Tax, will be rolled out in the coming months.
“Some changes may be necessary. We will first try to reach a consensus and if that is not possible we will go ahead and take the decision… We have opened up investments in various sectors. I do hope this (Winter) session I will be able to pass the Insurance Bill,” he said at the India Global Forum meeting here.
The Land Acquisition Act was passed during the previous UPA regime with the then opposition BJP supported it in Parliament. The Act provides for “fair compensation” for acquiring farm land for industrial projects. However, states and corporate have been demanding a relaxation in the law as, they argue, it has made acquisition very difficult and has hurt the process of acquiring land for infrastructure projects.
The minister said that the “obstacles” will have to be first removed in order to implement the concept of smart cities in India.
Further, promising a rational, non ultra-aggressive tax policy to make India a global manufacturing hub the minister said that the main challenge facing the country is restoring the confidence of investors in India’s economy.
“Economy was and is in a challenging situation and one of the principal challenges before us is to restore the confidence… expand economic activity and move towards increasing the growth rate… growth rate next year will be a little better and if the trend continues, India can be on high growth trajectory soon,” the finance minister added. Pointing out that the government’s disinvestment programme will unfold in the next couple of days, Jaitley said the Centre is aiming at bringing down its equity in public sector banks to 52 per cent.
Further, on the roll out of the GST, touted as the government’s most ambitious tax reform, he said that the Centre was in the final stages of talks with states on the issue and hinted that the Constitution Amendment Bill for introducing GST may be introduced in the upcoming session, which begins on November 24. “I do hope that my friends in the Opposition parties, particularly the principle Opposition, after a wasted opportunity when they were in government, spend a more fruitful tenure when they are in Opposition,” Jaitley added.