Strong banking system for supporting growth a top priority: Finance minister Arun Jaitley

New Delhi : Finance minister Arun Jaitley today said strengthening the banking system to support economic growth is “top priority” for the government now, and listed out a slew of regulatory and legislative changes which have been initiated for this.

“Now, our top priority has to be to strengthen the ability of the banking system to be able to support growth,” Jaitley said, addressing the 69th annual general meeting of the national bankers body IBA here.

“The capacity of banks to support growth must never be allowed to dilute,” he added.

He listed Bankruptcy Code, measures on debt recovery, securitisation laws, government’s capital support despite the fiscal constraints and the flexibility given by the RBI on various fronts as changes brought about in the recent past to empower banks.

Apart from these, the government has also addressed sector-specific issues, he said, citing the work done on steel, power and sugar sectors.

“We need greater spending in rural areas to create social and physical infrastructure, as well as to revive private sector investments,” he said.
He also lauded the lenders for surviving many regional and global crises, and escaping unhurt in almost each one.

“As far as the economy and the big picture are concerned, we are working in an environment where the world has slowed down. While the world has slowed down, we still remain an isolated spot in a slowing world but still managing to move at a reasonable pace. In a supportive global environment, we would do even better,” he said.

Attitude of the world towards us has also changed of late, Jaitley said, adding that “we place ourselves as world leaders in growth potential”.

Jaitley said by passing the GST near unanimously in both the Houses of Parliament, the government has silenced skeptics who doubted the government’s ability to reform continuously and at a fast pace.

“Obstruction to decision making is not relished in the system, that is what makes us stand out,” he said.

He further said the country is moving in a direction where the state and Central governments are moving in a direction which represents an aspiration for growth, development and progress.