Millennium Post

Govt to break vicious cycle of high inflation, interest rates: FM Jaitley

Committing to break the vicious cycle of high inflation and high interest rate, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday made a case for putting in place strict measures and special courts to stop hoarding and black marketing, in addition to reviewing the commodity laws.‘Long inflationary trends have adversely impacted the food and nutritional security of the common man. We are committed to breaking this vicious cycle of high inflation and high interest rates,’ he said during a pre-Budget meeting with state finance ministers.

He further said that slowdown in economic growth coupled with high inflationary pressure poses a challenge to the country's economy, which has crawled at sub 5 per cent in the recent years. ‘...there have been states registering much robust growth. This is clearly a case of sum being less than its parts and needs to be addressed through our concerted efforts.’

‘Mandate of 2014 clearly spells out that economic growth cannot be compromised at any cost and is sine qua non to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend,’ Jaitely said.

He also sought states' support in tackling temporary fluctuation in prices.

‘We also would like to evolve a mechanism which addresses the structural issues that create supply bottlenecks. We need to look at the Essential Commodities act and put in place strict measures and special courts to stop hoarding and black marketing,’ he said.

He said the need for a Single Agriculture Market and real time information dissemination on prices to farmers and consumers are areas which need to be addressed. As part of the economic integration, he further said Goods and Services Tax (GST) is one pending issue, on which now consensus needs to be built and ‘implementation done at an early date’. ‘Implementation of GST has the potential to significantly improve the growth story...there are some vexatious issues which only need resolution. I wish and hope that these will be sorted out sooner than later,’ he said.

Earlier in the day, President Pranab Mukherjee said curbing food inflation was topmost priority of the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre. Jaitley, who is holding pre-Budget meetings with different stake holders, said it is the policy of the new government that ‘Team India’ will not be limited to the government sitting in Delhi but will also include states as equal partners in the growth. Referring to recent data, he said the manufacturing sector has had an abysmal performance last year and the investment cycle has been disturbed.

‘The negative sentiment has affected trade, hotels and transportation sectors which are posed for a slower growth compared to last year,’ Jaitley said. The slow-down in economic growth coupled with high inflationary pressure, he said poses a challenge to the macroeconomic environment.

He said tax collections are only at 10 per cent of the GDP compared to the initial budget estimates of 10.9 per cent. ‘India can ill afford this trend and I believe that deliberation held today (Monday) will be the first of the series of such deliberations and we will together steer the economy in the mutually agreed direction,’ he added.

Jaitley further said his government is committed to evolving a model of National Development which is driven by the States and ‘we intend to extend necessary flexibility to States in achieving this. I urge the States to be fiscally responsible with this greater devolution of power’.

On National Food Security Act, he said the need of the hour is to implement the law in a cost effective and efficient manner for ensuring real ‘Food Security’.

He also stressed on importance of effective PDS as a vehicle to shield the poor from price rise and restructuring Food Corporation of India for greater efficiency in delivering food grains.
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