India: Jaitley sees GST, Land Bills as key to improving investment climate

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Ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has pitched for the passage of GST (Goods & Services Tax) and Land Bills for improving environment for investments.

Commenting on the Socio Economic and Caste Census, Jaitley said that there is an ambitious programme to increase public investment in roads, railways, rural infrastructure and connectivity.

“At the same time, the Government is creating the conditions for greater private investment: implementing the GST and creating a common market, reforming the land law, easing the costs of doing business, and unblocking stalled projects to improve the conditions for investment,” he said in his Facebook post on Sunday.

The Government aims to implement GST from April 1 next year, but it has very less time for completing the legislative process — once Parliament approves the Constitution Amendment Bill, it needs to be rectified by at least 50 per cent of the State Assemblies, to become an Act. This has to be followed by passing of three more laws.

However, the principal Opposition Congress has made it clear that until the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and the Chief Minister of Rajasthan Vasundhra Raja resign following the Lalit Modi episode, it will not allow smooth running of the monsoon session.

On the Socio Economic and Cast Census, he said that growth and economic reforms will help the poor as do targeted schemes. He also felt that that higher growth is needed to uplift life in rural area. “The way to eliminate deprivation is to achieve rapid economic growth of 8-10 per cent so that good jobs are created for all Indians quickly. That is why the government is promoting investment,” he said.

His remark was in reference to Census data, which painted a grim picture of the rural India and revealed that one out of three families living in villages is landless and depends on manual labour for livelihood.

Jaitley emphasised on targeting schemes and policies to re-inforce the effects of growth on alleviating deprivation, and also to help those who may be left out. Citing the example of the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), he said that research by the office of the Chief Economic Adviser showed that about ₹12,700 crore (25 per cent) will be saved this year from this scheme. “If we can be careful in our design and implementation, we can extend DBT to other commodities, so that the poor get more money to spend for their upliftment,” he said.

SOURCE: Hindu Business Line, 06/07/2015,