New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said he had thought of bringing out a White Paper on the state of economy after 10 years of UPA rule when NDA rode to power in 2014 but refrained from doing fearing it would hurt the country's interest.
Just before presentation of the NDA government's first Budget in July 2014, Modi said, his political sense advised him to present a health of economy, including the precarious state of public sector banks and problems with the Budget numbers. But national interest prevented him from doing so.
Two years of his rule has ended large corruption as also brought in the "biggest tax reform" of Goods and Services Tax (GST), he told Network 18 channel in an interview.
"Today I think, before presenting the first budget (in 2014), I should have placed a White Paper in Parliament on the economic situation in the country. This thought had come to me. I had two paths. Politics told me that I should put out all the details.
"But the nation's interest told me that this information would increase the hopelessness, the markets would be badly hit, it would be big blow to the economy and the world's view of India would get worse... It would have been very difficult to get the economy out of that...I chose to stay silent at the risk of political damage in the national interest," he said.
The government did not put the details about the situation of the public sector banks and how the previous government used to move budget numbers, the Prime Minister said.
"It hurt us... We were criticised, it was made to look like it was my fault. But I took the political damage in the country's interest and the result of that I am being able to fix things, despite shortcomings," he said.
According to a Nerwork18 press release, Modi expressed confidence that "unbiased people" would be surprised to compare the current situation with what prevailed during 2014.
Terming GST "the biggest tax reform", Modi said that it will bring about a big change in India by simplifying tax payments.
"Very few people in the country pay taxes. Some people pay taxes because they are patriotic, they want to do something for the country. Some pay taxes because they don't want to break the law. Some pay to avoid any trouble. But most don't pay because the process is so complicated, they think they might get stuck in the process and won't be able to come out. GST will simplify tax payments so much that anyone who wants to contribute to the country will come forward," he said.
The economic situation has changed since the NDA government came to power in 2014, Modi said, adding there was a time when the traders and industrialists had started looking because of "paralysis in government".
Talking about the steps taken by the government to improve the economic situation, he said efforts have been made to reform the system and improve ease of doing business.
"Our ranking (in World Bank's Ease of Doing Business) is improving very quickly. This is not possible without reform. Our systems, processes, forms were so complicated. Now there were reformed, so our rankings are going up.
"A UN agency has said that from 10 in the next two years, we could be at number three. These small things need to be improved. Even today there is licence raj in some areas, that needs to go. This is an important reform that is happening at every level, administrative, governance, legal," he added.
The government, he further said, was trying to fix the problem of Non Performing Assets (NPAs) of the banking sector.
"I held a session with bankers and told them there will be no call from the government to you. These things would have tightened the screws...My motto is, as it says on railway platforms, 'short cut will cut you short'. We don't want to take any short cuts and the results are showing," he said.
Referring to the issue of corruption, he said, he was engaged in tackling the problem at all level which is a monumental challenge for his government.
"If Ganga is clean at Gaumukh then Ganga will gradually become pure while flowing down. You may have noticed that we have taken many steps which have neutralised chances of any corruption.
"... We can do away with low level corruption through policy decisions and using technology. You will start liking at low level what you liked at top level," he added.