Running against time on April implementation of GST: Jaitley


 NEW DELHI: Its a race against time for the government as it strives to meet the April 1, 2017 target set for implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).  Speaking at the India Summit organised by The Economist, finance minister Arun Jaitley admitted that the target was a stiff one. “We are running against time. But I would certainly like to give it a try (achieving the implementation deadline of 1 April 2017),” he said.The Constitution amendment bill, which received Parliament’s nod last month, has been ratified by more than 50 percent of the states. The Parliament secretariat is currently in the process of collecting details of the proceedings of state assemblies, following which it will be sent for Presidential assent.

The government will then notify the bill and constitute the GST council — the representative body compromising the Union finance minister and state finance ministers. If all goes well in September and November, Jaitley said that the legislations could be passed in the winter session of Parliament. On the revenue neutral rate, he pointed out that GST should ensure that finances of the Centre and states are protected, while also ensuring they remain reasonable for the common man.

No privatisation of PSBs

While acknowledging that the health of stressed public sector banks were a priority, Jaitley effectively ruled out privatisation of state-run banks. “India still realises that these banks have an important role to play. In a consolidated manner, they will continue in the current shape,” he said, while indicating that IDBI Bank may be an exception where government shareholding is pared down to below 50 per cent.

Job creation and GDP

With the monsoon staying steady, Jaitley said that he was hopeful that agriculture would improve this summer onwards, “I think we are looking at a much better tomorrow. The structured organised sector does create a lot of jobs, but there it is much larger in MSMEs and the unorganised sector, even when there were challenges to the economy. We’ve been concentrating on these sectors.”

With questions raised about India’s real growth numbers, Jaitley said that the CSO, with calculates the growth rate is a professional organisation whose capabilities have not been called into question. He added that 7.5 per cent growth is below the country’s potential as increased government spending and a good monsoon should work in India’s favour.


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