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MUMBAI: Union finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Saturday that bold steps like GST and bank recapitalisation will make India a cleaner economy.
“If India aspires to be a major economy, then the size of the shadow economy cannot be more than the real economy,” Jaitley said at The Economic Times Awards in Mumbai.
Despite “the song and dance” by ill-informed critics, Jaitley said the government was committed to staying on the path of economic reforms. “We still have a long way to go on the path of structural changes. The pace of reforms may be slow at times, but we are convinced about the direction,” said Jaitley. “There will never be a finishing line, there will be an ongoing line.”
Jaitley said the first three months of GST had seen a 40% increase in registrations, helping the government expand its tax base significantly. GST had begun to reflect in industrial numbers too, he said.
Jaitley, who is ET’s Reformer and Policy Change Agent of the Year, said India’s direct and indirect tax rates were among the lowest in the world.
He said the banks had lent far too aggressively in the past. Until 2015, there was little knowledge of the real situation (on bad loans). “Our economy can be strong only when we have a transparent banking sector,” he added. “Global markets will perceive this (bank capitalisation) as a step in the right direction.”