New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday expressed disappointment that India has not received full recognition from global agencies for its efforts over the last two-and-a-half years in improving the ease of doing business. Addressing Economic Editor's Conference here, he said the country has functioned under adverse global environment during this period.
"I must acknowledge and state that the kind of steps we have taken, we still have not got from international agencies the full recognition of the effort we have put in," he said. The comment assumes significance as India continues to be ranked low, at 130th position, in terms of ease of doing business index released recently by the World Bank.
Besides, global rating agency S&P ruled out an upgrade for India in the next two years even as it affirmed the stable outlook on the country’s 'BBB-' long-term and 'A-3' short-term sovereign credit ratings.
Moody's too has expressed its inability to upgrade India's rating in the next two years because of muted private investment and rising NPAs. Jaitley said that when the Modi government took charge in May 2014 the first challenge was to re-establish credibility of decision making process and the government has not shied away from taking necessary decisions.
"The second important factor is, despite decisiveness, we have endeavoured our best to take as many decisions as possible through a large consensus route. We have not delayed decision making indefinitely for want of consensus but we have created adequate space and environment for that consensus," he said.
Talking about opening up of various sectors to foreign players, Jaitley said several areas have been liberalised through legislative decisions and executive orders. Besides, procedures have been simplified and the effort of the government has been to ease environment, businesses are done in India.
Jaitley further said that both direct and indirect tax collections have been reasonably good this year. There has been a spurt in public expenditure and India is getting good global investment, he said. "Overall, I feel that notwithstanding constraints of global economy, we are doing reasonably well on our own intrinsic strength," he said.
On various reforms, the Finance Minister said the government is in the process of executing taxation and a lot of distance have been covered as far as GST is concerned. "We also have reforms going on as far as direct tax structures are concerned, insolvency and GST...our preferred option has been consensus and we will hope to exercises that option as well," he said.
Expressing confidence about meeting the fiscal deficit target for the current fiscal, he said both spending as well as revenue increased last fiscal but the government achieved the deficit target of 3.9 per cent of GDP.
"We can achieve fiscal deficit target only by two ways - you earn more, you spend less. Last year, we have already set precedent that we earned more and we spend more and we still maintained the target and we hope to do so this year as well," he said.
On a question about Donald Trump winning US presidential election, Jaitley said: "When a large democracy through democratic process elects the government, I think everybody has to respect the verdict."