Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: The Finance Minister Arun Jaitley may have publicly admitted that Manmohan Singh did initiate the process of economic reforms in the country, but he was quick to add that the process of reforms fizzled out as he became the Prime Minister of the country.
"I think the process of reforms began when Manmohan Singh became the finance minister...and he did a great job at that, but the process of reforms stalled when he became the Prime Minister", said Jaitley.
Arun Jaitley was speaking at the CNN Asia Business Forum held on the sidelines of the 'Make In India Week' that began in Mumbai on Saturday.
The FM also let out a sneak peek into what could be expected in the Budget to be announced on February 29.
Here are some areas that may see the government's focus in Budget 2016:
Taxation: Talking about the tax regime in India, the Finance minister admitted that the government is conscious of the fact that tax regime has to be stable. Mulling over the tax disputes with large corporate houses in the past, he added that unreasonable tax demand does not give revenue...they only big bad name.
He said that most of the fears about retrospective taxation have been redressed, while those left will be resolved soon. Jaitley reiterated the government's stand on Corporate Tax, and added that we are bringing down the Corporate Tax in next four years.
Regarding the Goods and Service Tax, he added that the government will negotiate the passage of GST bill in the coming days.
Infrastructure: The sector has remained an area that receives major attention from finance minister in their budget speech. It looks like that 2016 will not be different.
On the massive gains made as a result of lowered fuel import bill, Jaitley added that “this windfall has been used by us in more than one way. One of the ways in which we have directed this is in building infrastructure, railways, highways, rural roads, these are the areas we are concentrating on”.
Agriculture: The Finance Minister said that agriculture needs investment in irrigation, rural electrification, rural roads. He added that the government has been helping farmers in interest subvention and crop insurance scheme.
Public Sector Banks: He spoke that he was soon going to announce some measures to reform the operations of public sector banks. He added that government will not pull out of public sector banks completely because of these banksfullfill a very important social purpose by reaching out geographically to areas where there is no banking. Till the recent past, 42% of India had no bank accounts. He added that PSU bank boards need to be profesionalised, government interference has to be curbed,
Jaitley added that government is son going to announce measure for reforming the PSU banks, and bring down government equity in these banks up to 51-52%
The Finance Minister Jaitley added that the share of manufacturing in the economy is going up and will further go up as India is yet to realize its potential in many areas of manufacturing.
"If you look at the sum total of the measures we have taken, government has consistently moved in one direction..has not erred in reversing the direction. I think it is much more than one major incremental reform", added Jaitley.