Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said the one main reform that is still work-in-progress is "ease of doing business" in India. Expressing optimism, he said that it was only the central government that used to push for reforms earlier, but now even regional governments are pushing for it. Addressing a gathering at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Jaitley said indirect tax reforms are a major priority for the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government.
The finance minister also expressed confidence that the Goods and Service Tax Bill will come through this year. The government was keen to get the Bill passed in the Winter session of Parliament, which concluded in December, but the Congress-led Opposition forced repeated adjournments in both Houses over various matters, including the National Herald case. The Bill is expected to replace a number of taxes with a single tax, and is supported by several states as it is expected to increase revenue.
Jaitley acknowledged that one of the major problems in the country is that a large population still lives in poverty. "To take them out of poverty, we need a sustained high level of growth for a long time. There is an increasing realisation in India that given some favourable conditions, we can grow at a much faster pace," he said.