Expecting the long-pending GST bill to get passed this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said any efforts to amend this law at central level are “over now” and it is up to individual states to pursue any changes.
Modi also hit out at critics who accuse him of failing to pursue “big bang” measures to revamp the Indian economy, saying his government has undertaken maximum reforms since coming to power in May 2014.
He said that many of the changes he has put in place would have been regarded by previous administrations as difficult to implement, but now that he has done them, to his critics they no longer qualify as “big bang”.
“I have actually undertaken the maximum reforms,” Modi told The Wall Street Journal in an interview ahead of his visit to the US next month at the invitation of President Barack Obama.
Responding to a question on Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill, Modi said he expects the legislation to pass this year. He said the efforts to amend the law at the federal level were “over now” and it is now up to individual states to pursue changes.
The GST bill, which has been approved by Lok Sabha, is pending in Rajya Sabha because of stiff resistance by Congress, the largest party in the House.
Government has been insisting that most of the parties, except Congress, are in favour of GST, which will bring about a uniform indirect taxation regime in the country. Modi said he would look to states to further liberalise the country’s rigid labour laws, the daily reported.
“Labour reform should not just mean in the interest of industry,” he said adding, “Labour reform should also be in the interest of the labourer.”
“When I came to the government, I used to sit down with all the experts and ask them to define for me what is the ‘big bang’ for them,” he said, adding “Nobody could tell me.” But at the same time he was quick to add that there was a need to do more.
“I have an enormous task ahead for myself,” Modi said in Hindi.
The Prime Minister said after coming to power his government had opened up more of the economy to foreign investment and made changes to curb corruption, fill gaps in rural infrastructure and make it easier to do business.
The Prime Minister also underscored the importance of public sector undertakings in the country.
“In any developing country in the world, both the public sector and the private sector have a very important role to play. You can’t suddenly get rid of the public sector, nor should you,” Modi said.