FM pledges to amend land Act, promises non-aggressive tax policy
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday said the government will amend the tough land acquisition law even if the opposition does not support as it looks to restore confidence in the economy.
On a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expanding his Cabinet, Jaitley promised a rational, non ultra-aggressive tax policy and make India a global manufacturing hub.
‘Some changes may be necessary (to the Land Acquisition Act). We will first try to reach a consensus and if that is not possible we will go ahead and take the decision,’ he said addressing India Global Forum meeting here.
The Land Acquisition Bill, which was passed during the previous UPA regime with then opposition BJP supporting it, seeks to set a fair compensation for farm land being taken over for industrial projects. But the law has made land acquisition very difficult, slowing projects. States too have come out openly against the law saying it had hurt the process of acquiring land for infrastructure projects.
Jaitley said that the ‘obstacles’ to the land laws would have to be first removed in order to implement the concept of smart cities in India.
In Budget 2014-15, Jaitley had proposed an allocation of Rs 7,060 crore for developing 100 'smart cities' in the country.
The Rural Development Ministry has already suggested a number of amendments to the Land Acquisition Act that will water down provisions such as mandatory consent of at least 70 per cent locals for acquiring land for PPP projects, and 80 per cent for private projects.
Jaitley also said that the government's disinvestment programme will ‘unfold’ in the next couple of days. ‘Economy was and is in a challenging situation and one of the principal challenges before us is to restore the confidence in the Indian economy, to expand economic activity and move towards increasing the growth rate,’ he said.