Government focus on clean economy, bold decisions: Jaitley

BENGALURU: The Modi government’s emphasis is on bold decision making and a clean economy with business friendly environment, the returns of which can be spent on the poor, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today.

He also said the fundamental problem during the UPA rule was that its Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) was not a natural leader of the ruling party or the government that committed mistakes in its approach to policy as well as in intention.

“But now we have someone who is willing to take courageous decisions in the form of Narendra Modi,” he added.

“Our overall emphasis has been on faster decision, bolder decisions, cleaner economy, freedom from black money, freedom from corruption and a friendly environment for doing business, so that the larger returns that come to the economy in terms of taxes can be spent on the poor of this country,” Jaitley said, adding that it is the Prime Minister’s approach which has been followed in the recently presented budget.

He was speaking at ‘Budget 2017 – An Analysis’, organised by Bengaluru City BJP and attended by Union Ministers Ananth Kumar and Sadananda Gowda and State party President B S Yeddyurappa, among others.

Stating that changes were visible in the last two-and- half years after the Modi government came to power, compared to the last 10 years, Jaitley said the first change is that the Prime Minister must also be the natural leader of the country or be the natural leader of the ruling party of the government.

The UPA Prime Minister, he further said, did not have the last word as far as the government was concerned.

This model can be prevalent in a company where a hired CEO is brought in by shareholders to run it and he reports to the board, but not applicable to the world’s largest democracy. “Democracies don’t work like this. Countries need an inspirational leadership which leads from the front.”

The UPA government committed two fundamental mistakes in its approach — one in terms of policy and the second in terms of its intention, Jaitley said.

He said every politician wants the vestige of arbitrary and absolute power, but good governance does not permit that.

“They were quite satisfied with the system in which contracts and natural resources were to be arbitrarily distributed. Whether it was coal mine or spectrum, the arbitrary power of the government or the discretionary power of the government is what they relished,” he said.

Stating that this discretionary power can create a lot of complications and that is why corruption charges came up, some of which were proved, people were jailed and led to a scare in taking decisions, he said that “there was a problem of intention.” Jaitley said the UPA government’s second mistake was that instead of concentrating on improving productivity and growth, they went back to resource reallocation and re-distribution.

The combined effect of both these was that certain amount of paralysis set into the government. The world was thus referring to it as a policy paralysis, he said.

He said the Modi government’s first objective was not to have such power. It was decided that things will be determined by a mechanism which is fair and not discretionary, where markets decide the rate and who gets what he gets is decided through auction.

“We distanced our government from arbitrary exercise in almost all areas of distribution of resources like minerals, coal mining and spectrum,” Jaitley said.

“The first effect of it was nobody could raise fingers and therefore we started cleansing the whole system where the last government was paralysed from functioning and this helped in taking economic decisions and courageous decisions one after the other,” he added.

On steps taken towards Ease of Doing Business in India, Jaitley said every move of the government has been to have a convenient environment for business activity.

“We have a decisive government, Prime Minister who is willing to take courageous decisions, red tapism has been eliminated…there is no charge of scandal against this government, all that is coming out is of previous government.”

Jaitley also spoke of the impetus given to the rural economy and rural infrastructure by the government in the budget.

He said that as far the rural and agriculture sector was concerned, this year alone from the central government “we are spending Rs 1,83,000 crore, so that we can have a quality of life in rural India”. “The entire developmental budget of UPA in its last year was less than Rs 4,00,000 crore. This year I have allocated Rs 3,96,000 crore only for infrastructure, of this Rs 2,41,000 crore is on transportation,” he added.

Listing out government’s developmental steps, he said demonetisation has been a “big blow” to black money and corruption.

Advocating a less cash society, he said “cash is the facilitator of crime. Quantum of bribery and other things will come down”.

Jaitley said electoral reform was possible only because the Prime Minister has been stressing on cleaning up political funding of the world’s largest democracy, where funding was only through black money.

The Finance Minister also spoke of the steps taken towards a tax compliant society in the budget.