Fiscal deficit not a cause for concern, says Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

He said the government is working on further easing of FDI norms

New Delhi: There is no cause for concern on fiscal deficit and the government will meet its target for the current fiscal despite certain challenges on the disinvestment front, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on October 27. He also said that all efforts would be made to persuade opposition to allow the government to pass the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the forthcoming Winter Session of Parliament.

Jaitley, speaking at an event here, said the government is working on further easing of FDI norms by removing conditionals, which may not be necessary in today's context. On fiscal deficit, he said: "I don't think there are any concerns... I had consciously kept a very modest fiscal deficit target that is the movement from 4.1 per cent, which eventually became 4 per cent to 3.9 per cent (in 2015-16). The manner in which tax revenues and expenditure are moving, I don't see there's going to be any difficulty".

Admitting that disinvestment is a challenge mainly on account of global problem, Jaitley said the "metal stocks are not doing particularly well, and metal was a large part of kitty that we had planned for this year. I don't think it makes sense divesting at a time when prices are low".

Government had budgeted to raise Rs 69,500 crore through disinvestment in current fiscal. Of this, Rs 41,000 crore was to come from minority stake sale in PSUs and another Rs 28,500 crore from strategic stake sale. On GST, Jaitley said the government will try and persuade the opposition to allow Parliament to function so that the Bill on the indirect taxes regime can be passed.

The government does not have the requisite numbers in the Rajya Sabha, he said, adding that "we don't have to wait for 5 years. The numbers change every two years and this April, they are going to change further for the better". The government had planned to roll out GST, touted as the most comprehensive indirect tax reform since Independence, from April 1, 2016, it seems difficult as the Constitution Amendment Bill is stuck in the Rajya Sabha where the ruling NDA does not have a majority.

Without naming Congress, he said that some political parties are opposing the GST by disturbing the House. "They didn't want vote. They wanted just a disturbance to be used as an instrument. I don't think a Constitutional Amendment can be passed (in disturbance)," Jaitley said.

He said economic reforms can also take place through executive action and there is no stoppage on that. "We have only a challenge as far as Goods and Services Tax is concerned because this is a Constitutional Amendment and we require a two-third majority," he said, adding that with support of regional parties the Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha.

When asked if the government would be able to meet the revenue target, he said: "We are still in the mid-year. We still have five and half months more to go. The third and fourth quarters always see a much better growth and much better collections."

( Source : PTI )
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