'Not seeking RBI surplus to finance fiscal deficit'

'Not seeking RBI surplus to finance fiscal deficit'

Replying to a debate on the second batch of supplementary demands for grants, Jaitley said the RBI surplus could be used to alleviate poverty and recapitalise public sector banks.

The Government does not need RBI surplus to finance its fiscal deficit target, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Monday while stressing that the Modi led NDA dispensation has the best track record of managing the deficit than any other previous regime.

Replying to a debate on the second batch of supplementary demands for grants, Jaitley said the RBI surplus could be used to alleviate poverty and recapitalise public sector banks.

The House later passed the supplementary demand for grants for the current fiscal to permit gross additional expenditure of Rs 85,948.86 crore, amid sloganeering by Congress and AIADMK members on Rafale and Cauvery issues.

While Rs 41,000 crore would go in for capital infusion into public sector banks, Rs 2,345 crore would be infused into debt laden national carrier Air India. "This government has the best track record than any other previous government in managing fiscal deficit. We do not need RBI reserves to manage the fiscal deficit... It is a priority of the government to maintain fiscal discipline, Jaitley said.

Referring to the issues concerning the Economic Capital Framework (ECF) of RBI, Jaitley said that central banks of most of the countries keep a reserve of 8 per cent, while some conservative central banks maintain 14 per cent reserves.

The RBI was maintaining a reserve of 28 per cent, he said, adding the expert commitee will decide on the appropriate reserve of the central bank so that surplus funds could be utilised for funding poverty alleviation programmes and recapitalising the state-owned banks.

The Reserve Bank has a massive Rs 9.59 lakh crore worth reserves and former RBI governor led Bimal Jalan headed six member committee has been set up to decide on the optimum capital reserves that the central bank should hold.

Jaitley said the decision to set up the committee was taken when Urjit Patel was the Governor of the RBI.

Amid the economic capital framework becoming a flash- point between the RBI and the Government, Patel resigned from the job on December 10, following which the government appointed former bureaucrat Shaktikanta Das as the new RBI governor.

Jaitley also said that the RBI board is discussing on the Basel plus framework which the central bank has stipulated for the banks to follow.

With regard to concerns expressed by some members over the agrarian situation, Jaitley said the government will take all steps to support the farmers. "Whatever steps need to be taken till the end, the Government will take it," he said.

Attacking the Congress for "indiscriminate" lending, Jaitley said the asset quality review conducted by the Reserve Bank in 2015 showed that bad loans in the system was to the tune of Rs 8.5 lakh crore, as against UPA's claim of Rs 2.5 lakh crore.

Rubbishing the claims of the UPA that the NDA government has waived loans of 15 individuals, Jaitley said "You looted the banks and lent money indiscriminately. Modi government brought back Rs 3 lakh crore worth money, threw out defaulting promoters through Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code and brought an improvement in balance sheets of banks".

"We are trying to improve the recapitalisation of public sector banks," the Minister added.

Defending the Demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST), Jaitley said they have helped in the formalisation of the economy and the number of income tax return filers have gone up from 3.8 crores when the UPA government left office to 6.86 crores currently.

When the NDA government completes its five-year term in 2019 the number of I-T return filers would double from 3.8 crores, he added.

Jaitley said the NDA government since coming to power in 2014 has given income tax relief in all its Budgets. Also in GST, out of the 700 items which are under the tax net, rates have been reduced in 360 items.

He said the enhanced resources on account of formalisation of the economy has helped the NDA government to construct more rural roads, houses, launch sanitation and healthcare programme.

"Aayushman Bharat will complete 100 days tomorrow. 7 lakh people took benefit of the scheme so far and the number would go up further," he added.

India, under the Narendra Modi dispensation, has remained the fastest growing economy in the last five years, Jaitley said.

The Opposition need not worry about the economy since under the Congress or any other opposition party India had not attained the fastest growing economy tag. Indian economy, he said, is growing at 7.5 per cent, against the world growth of 3 per cent.

The growth rate was 1 per cent higher than China's growth, he added.

Jaitley said the Modi government has brought down fiscal deficit and inflation and kept the Current Account Deficit (CAD) under check. The inflation was 10.2 per cent during the UPA-II regime, while currently, it is at 2.3 per cent, Jaitley said. With regard to revision of back-series GDP data, Jaitley said such revision was carried out by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO), which is a respectable organisation. "The data has been revised by the CSO following international best practices... Niti Aayog has nothing to do with it," he added. 

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