Promising quick decisions and a stable tax regime, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today exuded confidence there will be a significant uptick in investments in days to come and said government has succeeded in stopping reverse flow of capital seen during the last 3-4 years.
Jaitley also took a dig at the opposition parties for criticising the government on its “quick decisions”, referring to the Ordinance route adopted for passage of key reforms.
While assuring the investors that ‘ease of doing business’ was not just a slogan for the government, Jaitley also credited Narendra Modi’s decisive leadership for bringing stability to the country’s policy regime, saying that the Prime Minister has to have “the last word” in a democracy.
Yesterday, Modi had promised to make India the easiest place to do business with a transparent and fair policy environment and stable tax regime.
“In order to attract investment, you should have a stability of policies, your direction must be clear and the pace of moving in that direction must be reasonably quick,” he said at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit, where Indian and foreign firms committed to invest a whopping Rs 25 lakh crore.
In democracies, Jaitley said, “it’s always the Prime Minister who has the last word. The Prime Minister must bedecisive and willing to take consequences of whatever he decides. You cannot create structures outside the government which have the ability to overrule the Prime Minister.”
“I see investments significantly moving up in days to come,” Jaitley said, adding that NDA government has taken many steps in past few months and the mood was very positive.
Government priorities, he said, would be to spend more on infrastructure, incentivise expenditure in manufacturing to help boost growth and create more jobs.
Jaitley said the government has succeeded in “stopping the reverse journey of investment leaving our shores and going outside… something which was happening in last 3-4 years.”
Jaitley regretted that the NDA government was being criticised for taking quick decisions.
“The biggest criticism I have seen in the last one month of our government is why have you taken decisions so quickly.
You should have waited till the cows return home, till the opposition decided to allow the Rajya Sabha to function. Why are you resorting to a faster means of taking decision. In fact, that’s mean criticism,” Jaitley said.
Quick decisions in the right direction, he said, were intended to convey a message to global investors that India cannot stop growing “if one House of Parliament takes some time to settle down and start functioning.”
These remarks came in reference to some key reform bills getting stuck in Rajya Sabha, where the BJP and its allies do not have a majority unlike the lower house of the Parliament.
In an apparent reference to the retrospective tax changes brought in by thee previous regime, Jaitley said: “The present government is determined to have a perfectly non-adversarial tax regime”.
The government has assured the investors that it does not believe in the idea of retrospective taxation and has no intention of using that provision to raise revenue, he said, adding that it does not favour aggressive tax regime.
The Finance Ministry, he said, is trying to set up mechanisms like advance ruling for domestic investors to give greater stability to the tax regime.
In last seven months, the government has opened several areas of investment such as insurance and defence, he added.
Appreciating the steps taken by various state governments to hold conferences to attract investment, Jaitley said: “The issue of growth and development has to rise above politics… it is great sign for Indian democracy.”
Jaitley further said that time has come to get out of the traditional mindset of branding policies as “pro-industry, pro-business, pro-economic activity or just pro-poor.” It would not be possible to alleviate poverty without promoting growth and raising resources of the government, he added.
Jaitley added that a common goods and services tax (GST) across the country will be implemented by next year. The government last month introduced the GST Bill in Parliament.