Modi open to pan-India retail tax, pushes for jobs, infrastructure
A pan-India goods and services tax with the support of state governments, a push for infrastructure and privatisation of state units without politics are among the assurances of BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi if voted to power.
In an interview to a TV channel, with remarks in tune with his party's election manifesto, Modi also said the entire gamut of foreign equity needed re-evaluation, even as his pro-people, pro-jobs government will not cut subsidies but shun crony capitalism.
"We have always been on the side of the goods and services tax. But its success lies on a proper information technology network across the country. Unless a proper IT network is laid, implementing this tax is impossible," Modi told CNBZ Awaaz.
"The central government has not been able to implement GST. This is because it has to work in partnership with states," he said, adding this pan-India tax regime will also not come into force if states have to bear revenue loss or there is discrimination.
"How can a law that results in revenue loss for state governments work. The views of all states must also be taken into consideration. This was their (United Progressive Alliance government's) responsibility. But they did not do it," he said.
On foreign direct investment, Modi more-or-less reiterated what his party manifesto says.
"We still have to think fully about foreign direct investment in retail. We have to protect India's manufacturing sector too. We have to think about small players. If we are loaded with foreign goods our youth will remain jobless," he said.
"We should have a holistic approach to it," he said, adding that foreign equity in any sector must encourage domestic manufacturing, bring in niche technology and create assets - all of which are necessary to create jobs.
Modi also laid a lot of emphasis on infrastructure, especially railways.
"Railways is an important pillar in our country. It is now only a means of transport for passengers. But it has the potential to become India's growth engine. It can become a link between the central and the state governments to drive its growth," he said.
"We have separated the railways from the federal structure and the states. Tweaking fares and adding coaches won't help. It needs holistic restructuring, technology upgrade. If we use technology for railways can you imagine what we can show to the world," he said.
The prime ministerial aspirant also spoke at length about corruption, which he called a disease - but one that can be prevented to a large extent with proper processes and systems in place.
"My priority will be to develop systems by which the scope of corruption is reduced. But should we direct our efforts towards preventing corruption or clean up the past? That's a question we have to answer," he said.
"My conscience says I should focus on new corruption so that some more of the muddle is not created," he said. Speaking about himself, he said if any allegations are made against him, he will face a probe and ensure his name is cleared without any interference.
On privatisation, Modi said it was a matter of professionalism and not politics.
"We have to undertake case studies. It should be done professionally not politically. If the employees of a sick public sector enterprise are taken into confidence, they will run it better than the private companies," he said.
"Please do not doubt their abilities. One should show confidence in the employees. When I took over as chief minister, the Gujarat State Fertiliser Corp was on the verge of lockup. But I gave it my best. Today, it is more profitable than many private companies."
(Posted on 18-04-2014)