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India must open up its economy, with riders: Jaitley

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday asserted that India must completely open up its economy to global investment, except for rare sectors.

business Updated: Aug 18, 2015 23:29 IST
Arun Jaitley,SBI Banking and Economics Conclave,Economy

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday asserted that India must completely open up its economy to global investment, except for rare sectors.

"... (from) directions which we have seen in the last 15 months, I think one of the first principles was except for rare sectors, India must accept that it has to completely open up.

"And therefore, sector after sector which remained closed, we have to offer ourselves as a recipient of global investment, and that is the direction in which the present policy regime of the government has moved," he said at the SBI Banking and Economics Conclave.

Jaitley said growing at 8-10% for a significant number of years will help India find an answer to poverty.

"It's only then we will be able to create jobs. It's only then we will be elevated to a category of society which is able to realise its entire full potential," he said.

While macroeconomic indicators like inflation and industrial production were positive, he said, the challenges included slow credit off-take. "Positive side is our services will grow well. Rain Gods have been somewhat kinder to us this year... Monsoon except for two patches -- Marathwada and Rayalseema -- by and large has been adequate with rains in most parts of the country and therefore, we are expecting a good harvest," Jaitley said.

The Minister said indirect tax collections have also been good so far this fiscal and is indicative of a positive trend.

Jaitley said as a hugely consuming nation, India stands to benefit from transfer of wealth which is taking place.

"We have many many competing economies facing challenges of their own kind. If we are in a position to put our house in order, we obviously have an opportunity where we can exploit the current global situation to our advantage," he said, adding India's retail potential is 9-10% growth rate.

The Minister also said there was a need to expedite the process of regulatory clearances so that the time taken for setting up projects is curtailed.

After success of LPG subsidy transfer through DBT, Jaitley expressed hope that it would be extended to other areas. He further said direct transfers have resulted in huge savings.

The declining oil prices have helped the government in pushing the 'users-must-pay' policy, he said, adding that people are now paying the cost of diesel.

He felt that the Railways has to expedite its expenditure which could somewhat offset the lack of investment from the private sector.

"Private sector is good when the going is good, but in challenging times they want government help," Jaitley said.

On the National Infrastructure and Investment Fund (NIIF), he said the government is in touch with a number of foreign investors, and the Prime Minister's overseas visits have helped.

Jaitley also said the situation in the banking sector is not alarming but challenging while mentioning last week's initiatives of revamping PSU banks.

On the new black money law, the Finance Minister mocked at those who suggested they were against illegal money, but were also opposed to the strict law. He said such contradiction cannot exist and a tough law is needed to bring back black money.


Making a case for interest rate cut, Jaitley hoped that RBI will take note of the declining inflation and take a decision accordingly.

"Inflation is under control and hopefully, the impact of inflation being under control is a factor which, I am sure, the central bank with all its wisdom will take note of," he said.

Inflation, both retail and wholesale, are at record lows. While retail inflation stood at 3.78%, WPI came in at (-)4.05% in July.

RBI, which had cut the benchmark rate on three occasions by a total of 0.75% this year, has linked further monetary action to further softening of inflation.

First Published: Aug 18, 2015 23:20 IST