3 Jul 2018

Interview of PM Narendra Modi: We don’t want to make a sale (and) be accused of selling it cheap



In an exclusive interview to Swarajya’s R Jagannathan, Prasanna Viswanathan and Amar Govindarajan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi covered a range of topics including the creation of jobs, farm sector initiatives, lack of privatisation, GST, etc. Read https://goo.gl/TCkrL3 for the full interview. Excerpts:

Couldn’t you have done better in fixing India’s banks?

We had identified the problem with banks in 2014 itself. A retreat of bankers was held in Pune where top-most officials attended. I told them to go about their work with utmost professionalism and clean the sector. Earlier, if someone owed rs 500 crore and when it was time to repay that loan, a phone call from Delhi would ensure another loan of `500 crore is given so that the previous loan was repaid. We stopped this. This is why the old loans had to be shown as NPAs.

Now (with the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code), many businessmen have had to lose their companies for failing to pay bank dues. Bank mergers were merely being talked about before, but not implemented. But we have moved ahead. Did you not see the merger of five banks?

You don’t seem too keen on privatisation…Air India…

Our Government has undertaken significant disinvestment.

As for Air India, the Government has done what it had to with utmost sincerity. At the Cabinet level, we have cleared the sale of not only Air India but several other (loss-making) public sector units — this itself is historical in many ways; that they are yet to be sold is the result of timing and process. We don’t want to make a sale where we will be accused of selling something for X amount when we could have got more. But the policy decisions for strategic sales have already been taken.

Where are the jobs?

More than a lack of jobs, the issue is a lack of data on jobs.

There are close to three lakh village-level entrepreneurs who are running Common Service Centres across the country and also creating more employment. Start-ups are working as job multipliers and there are around 15,000 start-ups, which the Government has helped in some way. If we look at numbers for employment, more than 41 lakh formal jobs were created from September 2017 to April 2018 based on EPFO payroll data. According to a study based on EPFO data, more than 70 lakh jobs were created in the formal sector last year. If 41 lakh jobs were generated in the formal sector in eight months, how much would be the total formal plus informal sector jobs?

Experts doubt this way of measuring jobs…

India had around 66 lakh registered enterprises from independence till July last year. In just one year, 48 lakh new enterprises got registered. Will this not result in more formalisation and better jobs? More than 12 crore loans have been given under Mudra (micro loans). Is it unfair to expect that one loan would have created or supported means of livelihood for at least one person?

More than one crore houses have been constructed in the last one year; how much employment would this have generated? If road construction has more than doubled per month, if there is tremendous growth in railways, highways, airlines, etc, what does it indicate? Is it possible without employing more people in equal proportions?

Every government routinely claims it is committed to farmers. What are you doing which is different?

To make our farmers prosperous, we need to augment their sources of income and decrease the risks they face. Our policy interventions are aimed at helping farmers at every step — beej se bazaar tak. The previous government allocated Rs 1.21 lakh crore to agriculture while we have allocated Rs 2.12 lakh crore in the five-year period.

To make farming scientific, farmers are now equipped with soil health cards. Shortage and scarcity of urea is a thing of past and neem-coated urea is improving productivity. Now the farmer has a holistic crop insurance cover with PM Fasal Bima Yojana.

Not only will the farmers get minimum support price (MSP) of 1.5 times their cost, they also have more avenues to get the right price with the help of e-NAM.

GST is a good tax, but is it really simple?

It would have been very simple to have just one slab but it would have meant we could not have food items at 0% tax rates. Can we have milk and Mercedes at the same rates?

What are the benefits so far?

The number of enterprises registered from Independence until now was 66 lakh. In just one year after the introduction of GST, the number of new enterprises registered is 48 lakh. Around 350 crore invoices were processed and 11 crore returns were filed. Would we be looking at such numbers if GST were indeed very complex? Check-posts across the country have been abolished and there are no more queues at state borders. Would this be happening if GST was complex?

The reform merged 17 taxes, 23 cesses into one single tax. There are often teething troubles seen when a reform of this magnitude is carried out, but these issues were not only identified but also addressed in real time.

Source - FE 

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