Challenging to rebuild confidence in economy, says new finance minister
Referring to his priorities in the finance ministry, Jaitley said, ‘I am conscious of the fact that I am taking over at a very challenging time particularly when there is a need to rebuild the confidence of the Indian economy. The mandate which our government has received has an inbuilt hope in it. The political change itself sends a strong signal to the global community as well as the domestic investors. I think over the next two months by expediting decision making processes, we will be able to build on that.’
He said the entire policy of the new government would be spelled out in the next few days. ‘You will have to wait for a few days before we spell out the entire policy of the new government,’ he said. Asked if he would focus on inflation at cost of growth, Jaitley said a ‘the balancing act’ will have to be done.
Jailtey will also be looking after the defence portfolio as an additional charge for some time. ‘Defence is an additional charge with me until the expansion of the council of ministers. It’s an important ministry and needs urgent decision,’ he said while taking charge in the South Block office.
Talking about defence modernisation Jaitley said: ‘Speeding up the (procurement of) equipment required for their support are going to be priority areas as far as our government is concerned. We are certainly concerned that in last few years, some of these areas had actually slowed down and therefore expediting them would be a matter of top priority.’
Asked about the appointment of the new Army chief by the previous government a day before votes were counted in the general elections, Jaitley said, ‘I firmly believe that there should be no controversy on appointment of the person concerned. Some comments may have been made regarding the procedure of the appointment but there should be no reflection on the person concerned.’
Jaitley said one of the top priorities of the new government will be to focus on speeding up procurement of defence equipment. Indigenisation is also a top priority for defence ministry. Jaitley, who also took over as the finance minister, however said the charge of defence ministry was additional for him and a new minister would take over soon in a ‘couple of weeks’. ‘The ministry is only an additional charge with me till alternative arrangements are made after a full expansion of council of ministers. This is a very important ministry and hopefully it should get a ministerial head over the next couple of weeks to look after the ministry full time,’ he said.