Jaitley promises more reforms, sick PSU divestment

Retrospective tax

Jaitley promises more reforms, sick PSU divestment

Ahead of winter session of Parliament, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely on Wednesday hinted the government plans to bring series of reforms in labour, land acquisition and insurance laws and also announced the possible move to privatise of some loss-making public sector companies.

Jaitley, who kicked off the two-day India Economic Summit here organised by Geneva-based World Economic Forum, said, “There is a lot that has to be done ... I am quite satisfied with the beginning we have made but it’s a long journey.”

Cautioning against rushing into major reforms that could trigger a political backlash and derail the government's agenda, the minister said, “Reform is the art of the possible,” while promising not to take decisions that would send negative signals to investors.
Maintaining that the country needed to doggedly pursue the reforms agenda despite challenges, the minister said there could be a hundred things which could be done but the focus would be on what can be done immediately as part of the reforms process.

He also noted that India has been off the global radar for 2-3 years and retrospective taxation is “one bad idea” that damaged the economy.

Referring to the need for labour reforms, the minister said the government needs to convince people that a flexible policy will create more jobs.

The government is looking at changing some “illogical provisions” in the Land Acquisition Act, he said, adding that the government will provide transparent environment for doing business.
On privatisation and opening up more sectors of the economy such as insurance to foreign investors, Jaitley said the last time Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA was in power, it followed a liberal model.

He expressed hope that the long-pending Insurance Amendment Bill, that seeks to raise FDI in the sector from existing 26 per cent to 49 per cent, will get Parliament nod in the upcoming Winter session.

On disinvestment, Jaitley said, “This time, there will be divestment as some important public undertakings are on the verge of closure. But on foreign investment, decisions will be made sector-wise, keeping in mind the requirements of Indian economy and the appetite of the political system for reform.”

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