Economy

Jaitley: The new govt will miss the reformist Finance Minister

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on May 30, 2019

Arun Jaitley   -  PTI

As a Chairperson, Jaitley would consider all the suggestions given by the States before arriving at a decision

A red carpet has been laid on the pathway leading to the chamber of the Union Finance Minister in the North Block to welcome the new occupant. But there is an air of disappointment as incumbent Arun Jaitley has decided to opt out of the new government citing health reasons.

Jaitley’s importance in the BJP can well be gauged by the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on him at his residence on Wednesday after he had written a letter requesting that he should not be made part of the new Union Cabinet. The Prime Minister discussed important issues with Jaitley for almost half an hour. There was talk that Modi wanted Jaitley to continue but the latter did not agree even to be a Minister without portfolio.

 

As the Finance Minister in the previous Modi Government, Jaitley can be credited for inflation management and disinvestment strategy, but the two important measures of his tenure are introduction of Goods and Services Tax and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC). During the UPA regime, the then Finance Ministers Pranab Mukherjee and P Chidambaram had tried their best to implement the new indirect tax regime but could not manage a consensus on it.

Jaitley took two years to bring various political parties on board and managed to introduce the GST from July 1, 2017. Even after the introduction of the new indirect tax regime, the way forward was not easy. But Jaitley managed to sort out the teething troubles.

Not once had the GST Council used voting to take any of the over 950 decisions that it has taken so far. Jaitley chaired 32 out of 34 meetings of the Council (two were chaired by Piyush Goyal as interim Finance Minister) in which he gave an opportunity to every one to speak and air their views and took note of their concerns and suggestions.

As a Chairperson, Jaitley would consider all the suggestions given by the States before arriving at a decision. His willingness to listen and patience in taking note of all that was said helped him resolve several contentious issues relating to the GST.

He was always ready with the blueprint for the next round of changes in the GST and officials in the North Block are hopeful that with the kind of ground work Jaitley has prepared, there will not be much problem for his successor.

Senior Congress leaders too admitted that Jaitley had an answer to any questions and with strong logic. If the BJP managed to get the Aadhaar Bill passed in Parliament and defend it in the Supreme Court, it was only because of Jaitley. When Rafael became a contentious issue during the elections, it was Jaitley who defended his party successfully at various forum.

He was made in-charge of the campaign committee of the BJP and was instrumental in coining the slogan, ‘Ek baar phir, Modi Sarkar (Modi Government, once again)’ where the focus was on continuity of the government for development.

Though Jaitley is not part of Modi 2.0 team, he has assured that he will be available to undertake any work informally to support the Government or the party and that is the best news for now.

Published on May 30, 2019

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