Union finance minister Arun Jaitley has said the Narendra Modi government “will not blink” on crucial issues like the land acquisition bill, stressing that “a raging ideological battle” is on between reform and obstruction.
Jaitley made the comments during a gathering of business leaders here on Friday, an event organised by the Ficci and UK-India Business Council. He sent similar pro-reform messages during most of his events in the British capital on Friday.
“There are those who derive sadistic thrills in stopping us from the path of reform, but the government is very determined. The Prime Minister is not going to blink. Most reforms need executive action, not legislative,” Jaitley said.
Jaitley’s remarks came in the backdrop of the Modi government’s efforts to convince an unrelenting Opposition that the changes envisaged in the law was not anti-farmer as projected and that the reforms were needed to kick start industries stalled due to want of land.
The Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill 2015 was passed in the Lok Sabha earlier this week but a tough battle awaits in the Rajya Sabha where the ruling alliance does not have the requisite strength.
In an attempt to placate the Opposition, the government brought nine official amendments and added two clauses to the controversial bill, which has made significant changes from the UPA government’s land acquisition Act.
During his address, Jaitley also tried to assuage industry leaders on tax issues.
“The roadmap is clear. We need investment and we have thrown the door wide open. We need to improve on the credibility of India’s economy. We are trying to rationalise and lower taxes and ensure a non-adversarial system.”
The finance minister’s comments assume significance in view of a $3.2-billion capital gains tax slapped on Cairn India, a part of the Vedanta Group, for a transaction that took place some 10 years ago.
Jaitley also said he was hopeful of 8 per cent growth during the next year.
Stating that the extent of revenue generated from recent auction of some coal blocks justified the loss estimated by former CAG Vinod Rai during the previous government, Jaitley remarked that while in power, the Congress used to “issue chits” to award coal blocks.
“It was another form of chit fund scandal,” he added.
(With agency inputs)