Time is opportune for the GST Bill: Mohandas Pai

In an interview to ET Now, Mohandas Pai , Former Infosys Board Member, shares his views on the GST issue and the Indian economy. Edited excerpts:

ET Now: What is your take on the GST issue?

Mohandas Pai: I think the time is opportune. For the last two years, the Congress and some part of the opposition has been obstructionist. They are hurting the future of our children. They are hurting the future of young people in this country because creation of jobs and economic growth is a priority number one.

UPA government which pushed the GST is now becoming the main barrier on very frivolous grounds. Of course, BJP played obstructionist in the last parliament and this should be condemned and many of us condemned it but now being in the opposition, they should have supported it. For very frivolous reasons, shut down parliament is not acceptable, because we should not allow political parties to play with the future of young people in this country.

Today, the biggest challenge for India is a lack of jobs. You have 10 crores young people who attain the age of majority over last 10 years without jobs. There is a Jat agitation, the Gujar agitation, the Patel agitation. In the whole of middle India, there is a huge amount of anger and fervour against lack of jobs.

The Kashmiri issue is basically a lack of jobs. The north-east issue is lack of jobs. So we have to protect our country to make sure that we remain as a single country. We must promote growth and GST is the means to do that because GST will reduce cost, GST will make sure that transaction cost come down and GST will create one single national market.

We are not one single national market and so many people are struggling. I am very happy now that Mamata Didi has come to power. She has said that she will do it. She has asked Amit Mitra to make sure it happens and down south our amma is also I think politically inclined to make it happen, because she understands the thing. Jaitley Ji is now changing it. Prime minister changing it. I hope Mr Chidambaram and others support this because they worked on it.

I am sure Dr Manmohan Singh  will support it because he has struggled long for it. It is his dream. So I am very confident it will happen now.

ET Now: What do you make of the whole controversy over the GDP numbers? People are saying that there is lot of discrepancies in the numbers at this point of time.

Mohandas Pai: This is a leftist and left or centre economies and others who are not happy about India’s progress who comment on this and try to rubbish it. Look the CSO is an independent organisation. They get data independently. They make mistakes, is independent. The government does not control it. The CSO is never controlled by the government.

The UPA was there, they are not controlled and the new methodology was brought in by the UPA. By the time, they released the numbers, the UPA was thrown out of power but it is done by the UPA. And after new government has come, I do not think anybody has interfered. Now you can come and say methodology some discrepancy because the new system, they do not have back data but you question it and say government is manipulating, government is there, this is total rubbish.

Earlier also the data price was not fine. It was very-very narrow. We need to invest in statistical system. We need to invest in more data, more data gathering.

India has changed tremendously in the last 10 years. Now this come to 2011-12 which is very good but other areas are based on 2004-2005. The inflation figures are based on 2004-2005. So I think it is good to have a debate but let us not rubbish. Let us say that look on technical grounds, we want this, we want that that is perfectly fine. I believe the GDP is strong.

How can you explain 12% increase, 17% increase in taxes, 12% increase in secular taxes last year and this year? Even the first two months, if you look at the IPI numbers, 30% decline is because of insulated cable and some ill electronic matter. Insulated cables cannot shake IPI in this country, this is ridiculous.

They cannot shake. It is not such a large production. It has got very small so no impact. So I think we need better sense in this country.


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