Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has pitched for the passage of GST (Goods & Services Tax) and Land Bills for improving environment for investments. The Government is determined to push the Constitution Amendment Bill for the introduction of GST and Land Bill among others during the forthcoming session of Parliament but the apprehension is that the Lalitgate episode might wash out the entire session.

Jaitley said that there is an ambitious programme to increase public investment in roads, railways, rural infrastructure and connectivity. “At the same time, the Government is creating the conditions for greater private investment: implementing the GST and creating a common market, reforming the land law, easing the costs of doing business, and unblocking stalled projects are all measures that will improve the conditions for investment,” he said in a Facebook post on Sunday.

The Government aims to implement GST from April 1 next year, but it has very less time for completing the legislative process. As after Parliament approves the Constitution Amendment Bill, it needs to be rectified by at least 50 per cent of the State Assemblies, then only the Bill will become an act. After that there is need to pass another three laws. However, the principal opposition Congress has made it clear that until and unless the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and the Chief Minister of Rajasthan Vasundhra Raja resign, it will not allow House to run, thus there is fear monsoon session getting washed out.

Higher growth to improve Bharat

Highlighting the message for the Socio Economic and Caste Census, he said that growth and economic reforms help the poor as do targeted schemes. He also felt that that higher growth is needed to uplift life in rural area.

“The way to eliminate deprivation is to achieve rapid economic growth of 8-10 per cent so that good jobs are created for all Indians quickly. That is why the government is promoting investment,” he said. This remark is in reference to SECC data, which painted a grim picture of rural India and revealed that one out of three families living in villages is landless and depends on manual labour for livelihood.

According to the Finance Minister, the SECC, which was released on Friday, offers an opportunity to reflect upon the strategy for uplifting the lives of India’s poor and vulnerable. While great strides have been made to improve the economic lives of the poor, deprivation of one kind or another is still high: for example, about 30 per cent of households encounter at least two out of the seven measures of deprivation and 49 percent of households at least one. Improving this situation is the number one priority of this government, he said.

Jaitley emphasised targeting schemes and policies to reinforce the effects of growth on alleviating deprivation, but also to help those that may be left out. Citing the example of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), he said that research by the office of the Chief Economic Adviser shows that about Rs 12,700 crore (25 percent) will be saved this year from the direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme. “If we can be careful in our design and implementation, we can extend DBT to other commodities, so that the poor get more money to spend for their upliftment,” he said.