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Indian reforms an ongoing process: Jaitley

Reiterating that reforms were an ongoing process, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said the Indian government has made changes in different sectors, including taxation, labour, land and skill development and power sector among others.

Jaitley was addressing the Singapore Summit here, an annual event of global business leaders focused on the Asian region.

Highlighting the NDA government’s commitment to reforms, Jaitley said the controversial land legislation that the Centre will permit states to make amendments to the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013.

“If central legislation is thwarted on the land law because the principle opposition party changed its stand, then we have also found an alternate route together with states which want their land legislation,” Jaitley said at a question-answer session here following his address at the summit.

Pointing out that Tamil Nadu has already made changes to its laws in this regard and which are being implemented, Jaitley said states wanting to make amendments in the central law would be permitted to do so by the central government.

“We have already started on alternative route and changes being proposed by states are in the process of approval by the centre,” the finance minister said.

“Dismantling centralised planning and replacing it by an enabling institution (Niti Aayog), transforming states finances as per recommendations of the fourteenth finance commission, taxation reforms,” Jaitley said listing out th government’s track record on reforms.

“Removing the state’s discretionary powers in allocation of natural resources through a transparent, market driven mechanism,” he added.

He said several changes to labour laws have been effected by states, which have been approved by the central government.

“So, in an area that has been never touched before (labour laws), a process of change has started,” the finance minister said.

Addressing an investors meet jointly organised by the Indian high commission, industry chamber FICCI and the Singapore Business Federation earlier on Friday, Jaitley said the Indian government has several legislations in the pipeline that would be pursued in the next few years.

“The bankruptcy code is ready while changes to the arbitration laws and several other legislations are in the pipeline… for the next few years, we have our agenda full; reforms are an ongoing process,” Jaitley told investors at an event here.

The finance minister said legislation that could be taken in money bill form would be pursued.

A money bill cannot be blocked by India’s upper house, the Rajya Sabha, where the NDA government lacks a majority, which has stymied attempts to carry forward legislation on land acquisition and the goods and services tax.

Jaitley assured the investors present that the Narendra Modi government would continue to make India an attractive investment destination, he said the country was no longer suffering from policy paralysis and an uncertain taxation regime, while India’s states were vying with each other to attract investment.