India not impacted by protectionism talk, global slowdown: FM

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New Delhi: The rhetoric of protectionism in developed economies and unpredictable global slowdown have not affected India and it is determined to grow with focus on investments, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today.

“What strikes us today is two important factors – unpredictable global slowdown and the rhetoric of protectionism in developed economies – have not affected India,” he said at ‘Make In India-Karnataka conference’ here.

Not a single sound or even ‘a whisper’ of protectionism is being heard in India and such talk is there only in the developed economies, he said, adding that this itself is a tribute to the fact that the country is willing to accept investments and tune its policies.

Jaitley said there is tremendous pressure on government policy makers because of peoples’ impatience to see India grow at a faster rate and get rid of poverty, among other things.

He said the environment supporting reform has never been as supported in the past as today and so it is the responsibility of both the central and state governments ‘to put themselves together’ and look at the road map of continuing this path of growth.

The minister also said that in spite of India’s growth being pegged at 7 to 7.5 per cent growth rate, it is not a satisfied nation and has hunger to grow even faster.

“We are not satisfied with the tag of being the fastest economy in the world. We think we have a potential to do better,” he said.

Jaitley lauded Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, his ministers and civil servants for working with a positive frame of mind for implementation of GST by the middle of this year, which, he said, would bring a transformational change.

He said once the GST regime is implemented, the whole country will become one big market with easy flow of goods and services, with the help of good taxation system and one assessment system, instead of multiple ones.

“So on the one hand, you have a system where evasion becomes difficult and on the other, generation of shadow economy through taxation system becomes more difficult,” he added.

Jaitley said government has taken a series of steps to integrate the informal economy with the formal one, which could increase revenue for states as well as the Centre.

The government has chosen to invest in agriculture, infrastructure and social sectors, he said.

“We have chosen to invest in agriculture where a larger purchasing power is in existence,” he said.

Jaitley said it is only when Karnataka achieves 2-3 per cent higher than the national growth rate that its ability to lead India economically would become a reality.

“You are one of the most innovative states. You have a very progressive population, a progressive set of policies.”

The conference was organised by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Karnataka government and Confederation of Indian Industry.

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