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Arun Jaitley Responds to Yashwant Sinha: Don't Have the Luxury of Being Former Finance Minister

After Yashwant Sinha and P Chidambaram criticised the state of economy, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley retorted that the Narendra Modi government is not one to shy away from tough decisions and has ended policy paralysis prevalent under previous governments.

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Updated:September 28, 2017, 9:14 PM IST
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Arun Jaitley Responds to Yashwant Sinha: Don't Have the Luxury of Being Former Finance Minister
Calling fiscal prudence a difficult job, Jaitley said that there has been no reduction in the collection of direct taxes during his tenure. (Image: PIB)
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New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday defended the government’s decision of demonetisation and the launch of Goods and Services Tax (GST), a day after former NDA finance minister Yashwant Sinha blamed him for the economic slowdown. Speaking at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, he took a dig at his predecessor and said he does not have the luxury of being a former finance minister.

Here are the top points from his speech:

- Jaitley said that the Narendra Modi government is not one to shy away from tough decisions and has ended the policy paralysis prevalent under the UPA rule. He said although he does not want to make comparisons, the government has improved several sectors by making incremental changes.

- On GST, Jaitley said that the decision was taken with consensus and it was everybody's call that a single rate should be introduced. He said that while some Congress leaders have been critical, most of the state governments have been supportive. Some teething problems were always expected, he added.

- On demonetisation, Jaitley said that the exercise was never meant to be confiscation of money, but was done to make sure the anonymous tender gets identified to its owner.

- On criticism by former finance ministers Yashwant Sinha and P Chidambaram, he said he does not have the luxury of being a former minister. “Acting in tandem will not change the facts,” he said.

- On ease of doing business, Jaitley said that the government has ended rep-tapism. Earlier there was a lot of government discretion, which led to corruption. PM Modi has scrapped government discretion and left it to market forces, he said. This, he said, has made India a more attractive destination.

- Calling fiscal prudence a difficult job, he said that there has been no reduction in the collection of direct taxes during his tenure. He said that the GST collection in the first two months has also been on expected lines and will pick up pace soon.

- On corruption, the finance minister said the current dispensation has acted against politicians as well as businessmen. “We have also started cracking down on people who have illegally stashed money abroad,” he said, adding politicians with illegal money are bankrupt of ideology.

- On political discourse, the finance minister said there has been convergence among ultra-left and extreme jihadi elements “University campuses, media, some writers, some civil activists... this voice is becoming more audible,” he said.
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