Jayant Sinha, 51, assumed office on Monday as the minister of state for finance, days before the government begins the formal spadework for next year’s budget, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has hinted could be “transformational”.
Sinha, son of former finance minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, is being seen by many as the perfect foil, as junior minister, to finance minister Arun Jaitley, amid signs that the government will walk the talk on critical reforms such as easing of land rules, hiking the foreign direct investment cap in insurance and introducing tax restructuring.
“We are expecting growth to pick-up and be on the accelerating trajectory. Hopefully we will cross 6-6.5% next year,” Jayant Sinha said soon after taking charge.
The Indian economy, which until recently was an engine for global growth, has shown signs of clawing out of its deepest slump in 25 years. It grew 5.7% during April-June 2014, from the sub-5% expansion in the last two years.
India’s most ambitious tax reform initiative, the goods and services tax (GST), has entered its final leg. If implemented, GST will dramatically alter tax administration by stitching together a common national market and subsuming local levies such as octroi and excise into a single tax.
The government plans to introduce the Constitution Amendment bill for GST in Parliament’s Winter Session that begins on November 24.
“(GST Bill) has gone through years and years of preparation and consensus building...We are sure of some positive results in this session,” Sinha said.
There is also heightened expectation that the government will be able to get the long-pending Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill passed in the next session, lifting the foreign investment cap to 49% from the current 26%. “When it comes to Parliament we are confident we will get the support that we require,” he said.
Sinha said creating jobs and keeping inflation low remains the government’s topmost priorities.