NEW DELHI: In its effort to get the opposition party support for the early passage of Goods and Services Tax bill, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that India has the opportunity to touch 9 per cent growth and appealed to Congress to think about the ‘legacy’ it would leave behind by not supporting the measure.
“It’s not difficult for India to grow at 8-9 per cent. It is not impossible,” Jaitley said in the Lok Sabha while replying to a debate on the second batch of Supplementary Demand for Grants of Rs 56,256 crore which was later approved.
He said GST Bill, which aims at reforming the direct taxation system in the country, can push the country’s growth by one and one-and-a-half per cent. The Finance Minister hoped that the growth in the current year would be 7-7.5 per cent and the fiscal deficit would be restricted to 3.9 per cent of the gross domestic product with quality “much superior” than previous government.
The fiscal deficit target will be met without any cut in expenditure, he said, adding whatever amount has been promised to various schemes as also to the states will be given. He underlined the need for faster growth of the country to insulate itself from the global economic crisis which is recurring frequently.
According to Jaitley, lower crude prices are being utilised for creation of public utility like highways and rural roads. “The situation created by low oil prices has helped us in being able to utilise funds for larger public utility. Part of it is passed on to people, part to oil companies, which have suffered losses,” he
Stating that public sector banks were facing a challenging situation with regard to bad loans, he said the government was trying to address problems of sectors like highways, steel and power - mainly responsible for rising NPAs. “Banks are facing a challenging situation. I have no hesitation in taking the House into confidence. Some people feel best appointments were not made either as executives or at the Board level,” Jaitley said.
With regards to stress in the steel sector, Jaitley said it was because of external factors. China was dumping steel at lower price than the domestic steel production cost leading to stress in the sector.
Meanwhile, talking about FDI, he said the states have been competing with each other in attracting funds from abroad with CMs travelling to various countries.
Will meet Fiscal Deficit Target
Fiscal deficit target of 3.9 per cent of the GDP this fiscal will be met without cutting expenditure, said Jaitley adding that whatever amount has been promised to various schemes and to states will be given. There will not be any difference between budget estimate and revised estimate, he said. “With moderately good GDP numbers, fiscal deficit under control, we intend to achieve current account deficit (CAD) of 1.2 per cent of the GDP (in the current fiscal),” he said.
Direct Taxes May Miss Target
There could be a shortfall in direct tax collections to the tune of Rs 30,000-40,000 crore this fiscal, according to Revenue Secretary Shaktikanta Das. He added that direct tax collections during April-November grew 12.63 per cent to Rs 3.69 lakh crore. Earlier, Jaitley had hinted that direct tax collections could fall, though, indirect tax mobilisation have gone up.