DAVOS– The Indian economy needs multiple engines of growth while the government focus now is on reviving private investments, union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Thursday.
“We have a very noisy democracy, but I am finding that there are more people who want to support growth while others are a very minuscule minority. Any economy needs multiple engines of growth,” he said.
“In the past, we had fewer such engines and we need a few more. Public investment is one that we are doing. We are concentrating on infrastructure and for the first time in history, we have been able to rationalise the subsidies,” Jaitley said.
“India is a noisy democracy but I am sure that we would be able to get all of them through. Some measures have got delayed but none of them have actually hit a complete roadblock,” he added.
In relation to the proposed Goods and Services Tax Bill pending in the Rajya Sabha because the ruling National Democratic Alliance lacks the requisite majority to push it through, Jaitley said the GST legislation would go through as the numbers in India’s upper house of parliament will change favourably soon.
“The paradox is that the party which drafted GST is not on board. But then the numbers in the Rajya Sabha are going to favourably change (for the government) soon and I am hopeful that the GST would get through,” he said.
The BJP-led government is expecting improved numbers in the Rajya Sabha in April 2016 since a number of Congress members are retiring in March and April. In March, five nominated members of the upper house are retiring. The BJP-led government will get to nominate new members.
Underlining the key role of states in the reform process, Jaitley said these are now competing with each other to attract investments.
“Most states that grow will actually add to the country’s growth rate,” he said.
“We are asking people from all over the world to become partners in India’s infrastructure growth story,” he told the audience.
“I have always said that the current rate of 7-7.5 percent growth rate is not our real potential. We have the potential to add 1-1.5 percent to this figure. There is still head space that we have and I am sure we would be able to reach that,” the minister said.
“We were expecting to grow over 8 percent, but inadequate monsoon not only led to fall in agricultural production but also hit the consumption power of the rural economy,” he added.
In a video message earlier on Thursday sent to a global conference in Singapore, the finance minister said India is changing its taxation laws towards greater stability and predictability in the tax regime and trying to settle pending disputes.