Voicing “great satisfaction” over the performance of the Indian economy in “a year of turmoil and volatility” globally, finance minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday dismissed criticisms about the economy not having taken off as “cynicism -- a way of life in India”.
Looking back at 2015, Jaitley said India has been the bright spot with growth prospects of 7-7.5% despite global slowdown and adversities, and expressed optimism that the growth rate which is “quite good” would improve further in the months to come.
India has responded well to the challenge posed by the slowdown in global economy, he said, but acknowledged that “there are areas (in which) we have to respond faster”.
“As the year ends, I look back with a sense of great satisfaction,” Jaitley told PTI in an interview, during which he underlined that India’s fiscal fundamentals are “extremely sound”.
Outlining his priorities for the New Year, the finance minister said he would continue with structural reforms and the priorities would include GST, rationalising direct taxes, further easing the system of doing business.
“After having done that, I would like to concentrate essentially on three things -- more money for physical infrastructure, more money on social infrastructure and lastly more money on irrigation because that is a neglected sector.”
Asked about murmurs that the economy has not really taken off, Jaitley dismissed such grumblings as without merit and said that “the revenue collections do not go up without the economy taking off”.
“Cynicism is a way of life in India. You can question any other data but you cannot question the actual rise of revenue and the actual rise of revenue is showing that the economy is doing better,” he said.
Asked whether the Indian industry was also prone to such cynicism, Jaitley said, “Well, I think a section of the Indian industry has overstretched itself and those who have overstretched themselves see this as a universal problem.”