New York: India’s 7.5% economic growth rate is not its “best potential growth rate” and there is “restlessness” in the Narendra Modi-led government to boost economic growth and set higher GDP targets in the coming years, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley has said.
Jaitley, who began his 10-day visit to the US on Wednesday, said that he is “extremely pleased” with what the government has achieved in the last one year but feel that India has the ability to do much better. “The credibility of the Indian economy has been virtually reestablished but then as I have been repeatedly saying while there is excitement, there is also a lot of restlessness as far as we in the government are concerned because we feel that the 7.5% growth rate we have achieved is not our best potential growth rate,” Jaitley told CNBC news channel.
“We think we have an ability to do much better,” he said. He stressed that a series of reforms aided by a lot of investment particularly in infrastructure, improvement in manufacturing, agriculture will help push up India’s economic growth.
Predicting an 8% growth this year, he said the government will set higher GDP growth targets in the future. “I think our growth rate certainly end of this year should be around 8%. (In) Future years I am keeping my fingers crossed, our targets are going to be higher,” he said.
On whether India is now a better investment than China, Jaitley said he does not compare the two because “we have grown in recent years but China had a consistently 9% plus growth rate for more than three decades. “We have a lot of distance to cover before we can really equate ourselves with that but that is a good example to follow and therefore I’d rather India grow for a decade or two by that 8-9% growth rate and it is only then that our entire potential will be realised.”
When asked about the concerns over “renewed tax terrorism” in India, Jaitley said this is a term coined by him and “it is my responsibility to make sure that it does not happen in India again.”
He said as far as direct tax is concerned, the government is following a roadmap of one of the “most progressive” direct taxation regimes in India. “The age of that kind of aggressive adversarial tax regime is over. We will probably have one of the more tax friendly regimes in India,” he said as he pointed out that he had announced in the budget that over the next four years direct corporate taxes will be brought down to 25%, a rate which is “globally very very competitive”.
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