Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said the government was running against time in implementing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) by April 1, 2017. “It’s a very stiff target (April 1, 2017 deadline for GST), we are running against time. I would certainly like to give it a try,” Jaitley said at the India Summit 2016 organised by The Economist.
“It (GST) will the plug the leakages. In the long run it will probably stabilise the tax rate and move them down once effectively implemented. It will also bring a lot of equity within the country in terms of the consuming states being financially empowered more,” he added. Jaitley said the GST rate should be so revenue neutral that it should be adequate enough to maintain current levels of government revenues both at Centre and states, keeping in mind the trend of revenue buoyancy, but still be reasonable enough not to impose any unreasonable burden on taxpayers.
On other economic priorities of the government, Jaitley said the government is working to improve the health of banks and reduce the amount of stressed projects.
“If you ask me in terms of economic priorities even outside Parliament, I would say that certainly implementation of GST is the top priority, putting the bank on track is a very important priority and the stalled projects, a lot of them have been cleared and this process must continuously go on… I think these are the obvious priorities,” Jaitley said.
On stressed assets, he said the Centre has initiated a number of steps to reduce NPAs especially in sectors like textile, real estate, steel and state discoms. “There is not a single sector that we have left out in terms of resolving issues… if you were to ask me after the passage and may be possible implementation of GST, while that process is on what would be my priority at the moment, it is certainly the health of public sector banks,” he said.
‘Indian politics not ready for PSB privatisation’
New Delhi: Indian politics is not yet ready for privatisation of public sector banks, but the government remains committed to improve banks’ health and pursue banking consolidation in some cases, finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Wednesday. IDBI Bank is the sole exception where Centre is thinking of reducing its stake below 49 per cent, he said.
“The public opinion and political opinion has still not converged to a point where you are thinking in terms of any form of privatisation in that sector,” Jaitley said.
He added the government is ready to provide an additional capital over the Rs 25,000-crore amount announced in the Budget to the PSU banks.
To a query whether India has been over-stating its growth rate as per the new method of calculating gross domestic product, Jaitley rejected the criticism and said the Central Statistical Office (CSO) is a professional organisation. “I don’t think the professionalism of CSO has even been called into question. They are a very responsible and professional organisation. They revise their methodologies and at the end of the day various global institutions, most importantly, the IMF accepts their data,” he said. ENS