Thank you, Mr. Jaitley - By Shriram Deshpande

Thank you, Mr. Jaitley...

I still remember the day you were nominated as Finance Minister in 2014. Modi government was elected with a clear majority on the backdrop of slow economic growth and indecisiveness in the government. Indians were fed up with corruption and inflation. All countrymen, may it be agriculturist, small businessmen, employees, professionals, were not happy with the way economic affairs were being managed because their financials were not improving. You had a big challenge to fulfill the promise of अच्छे दिन given to every Indian. Doing it in a country of 1.25 billion people was not an easy task. But you accepted the challenge. And we had great hopes on you.

Now today again Modi Government has returned to power with a stronger mandate and unfortunately, you have opted out on the ground of health. I thought this is the moment I should thank you for your sincere efforts to navigate Indian economy during the last five years.

Your biggest moment was GST. It was pending for last more than fifteen years and major hurdle was agreement among the States. Due to different political ideologies governing different states at different times, it was not possible for any earlier FM to implement this biggest tax reform since independence. But somehow with your superior communication skill and political acumen, you managed to bring all State Governments on a table. You even relinquish few economic and taxation powers of Central Government for incorporation and smooth functioning of GST Council. Your efforts were rewarded when even opposition also backed the bill in both houses. Again you tried everything to remove initial challenges of implementation as quickly as possible. India will always remember your contribution to this. 

The banking sector in India has not less than a vital role in its economic development. It has helped to generate investment as well as consumption within the country which lead to employment and incomes to masses. But due to negligence and intervention, both at the same time, by bureaucrats and politicians, in the working of nationalised banks for decades, the banks were facing 'duel balance sheet problem' as a result of higher NPAs. It was urgent and important to take strong action to clear the mess. You could gather necessary political support from within your government and at least start the cleaning. I know the task is yet to complete and will require substantial efforts by your successor. But I salute you for your initiative which was more challenging and hence commendable. 

I am sure Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code will prove a game changer in the time to come. India was desperate to have simple, effective and time-bound debt resolution mechanism since years. Lack of this has cost Indian economy a lot. IBC will not only help the creditors to recover maximum but also to debtors to get relieved quickly. The full potential of IBC will be understood soon and few difficulties will be removed and then it will prove to be a great relief to business.

One more challenge you faced, and faced successfully, was demonitisation. Controlling economy after a sudden cancellation of nearly 86 percent currency in value for such vast and diversified country was by no means an easy task. The people on one hand supported the decision of your Government but suffered a lot also. I have seen your tirelessly efforts to ease out people's difficulties and at the same time not to lose the black sheeps. Even though there are different views about the success of demonitisation, but I am sure within a year or so from now the positive impact on tax compliance and black money will be clearly visible to everyone.

Your efforts to make changes in Budget preparation and presentation to make it more meaningful and understandable are also appreciated. You did away with Railway Budget, which was otherwise also a meaningless activity. Presentation of Budget on 1st February instead of 28th February gives sufficient time to parliament to approve the budget and to Government to spend it from start of next financial year. The distinction of Plan and Non-plan Expenditure was removed for better understanding of the budget.

Mr. Jaitley, you inherited an economy with slower growth of 6.5% of GDP, higher fiscal deficit of 4.5% of GDP, higer inflation of more than 8% and legacy of corruption and indecisiveness. But when your successor will take over, she will get an economy with strong fundamentals. This was the most valuable contribution by you.

India has a long way to prosperity. We need to erase poverty, hunger, illiteracy and inequality from our society. It will take decades to achieve these goals and efforts by each and everyone. But your contribution during your tenure was remarkable. 

This is for the biggggggg THANKS to you on behalf of the countrymen who believed in you and not disappointed.
Thank you, Mr. Jaitley.....

 

- Shriram Deshpande (deshpande_shriram@hotmail.com)

Featured image is via Wikipedia