While expressing hope that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill will be passed (by Rajya Sabha) this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that efforts to amend this legislation at the central-level are over and it is now up to individual states to pursue any changes.
“I have actually undertaken the maximum reforms,” Modi said in the course of an interview to The Wall Street Journal. The Prime Minister is scheuled to visit the US next month.
Regarding the claims of his detractors that he had failed to undertake “big bang” measures for transformation of the Indian economy, Modi said: “When I came to the government, I used to sit down with all the experts and ask them to define for me what is the ‘big bang’ for them. Nobody could tell me”.
While acknowledging that there was a need to do more, he pointed out that the government had opened up the economy more to foreign investment, made changes for checking corruption, filled gaps in rural infrastructure and made it easier to do business. About PSUs, the PM said: “In any developing country in the world, both the public and the private sector have a very important role to play. You can’t suddenly get rid of the public sector, nor should you”.
India, according to him, wanted to push defence manufacturing because “we have a lot of defence imports”. “If I look at (it) from an economic point of view, and to provide jobs to my country’s young people, the defence equipment manufacturing sector can provide the maximum number of jobs… For that I have been working hard for many days and I also talk to other countries”.
Modi refused to react to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s proposal for banning Muslims from entering the US. He said: “These are issues of debate in the election. A government shouldn’t respond to that…As a part of the election debate many things will be said there, who ate what, who drank what, how can I respond to everything?”
Read our coverage of the government’s performance, here | Read the full WSJ interview, here.