New Delhi: Dismissing the 'popular' perception about policy paralysis, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday declared that a slew of reforms measures are on the anvil but said the government cannot go ahead fast on them because of lack of numbers in the Parliament. Announcing a slew of reforms measures that will include starting of a couple of Infrastructure Debt Funds and passage of various legislations, he told Economic Editors Conference that legislations can be passed if parties cooperate.
"It is possible if we collectively do it. Therefore I don't blame anybody. I could have assured you here and now that all the legislations will be passed in the Winter Session but today unfortunately I cannot do so because I am 206 in Lok Sabha and 76 in Rajya Sabha", he said in reply to questions.
Therefore, the Minister said, the government required support of other parties and appeal to them to help the Congress.
"It is not a help to the ruling party but to help India and the Indian industry to take advantage of the legislative measures that are required to expedite the reforms and for that Parliament must function,", he said inaugurating the two-day conference.
Mukherjee said if the reforms process gains momentum, the economy will surge ahead.
He said that a new manufacturing was before a group of ministers and the RBI was actively engaged in the process of granting new banking licences.
The government, he added, has also been taking steps to deal with the economy hit by the global slowdown and expressed the hope that inflation would start moderating by December.
"I would now briefly address the concerns of the so called 'popular' perception about policy paralysis. The only way I could demonstrate that is to list some of the key decisions taken and those on the anvil," he said in his speech.
Mukherjee said that government has recently announced the draft telecom policy and infrastructure debt fund guidelines have been finalised by RBI and Sebi. It was expected that a couple of funds would start soon.
He said while the Mining bill was ready for introduction in Parliament, the Land Acquisition Bill has already been introduced.
The Direct Taxes Code and legislations on the Goods and Services Tax (GST), insurance and pension reforms bill were before the Standing Committee, while the government was going to bring legislation for procurement along with a policy for exploitation of natural resources in a transparent manner.
4.6 pc fiscal deficit target a challenge: FM
Amid volatile commodity prices and a sluggish global economy, Finance Minister said meeting the 4.6 per cent fiscal deficit target for FY'12 will be a "great challenge".
"With the crude prices remaining where they are, it will be a great challenge to maintain the fiscal deficit numbers at 4.6 per cent this year. However, we will make strenuous attempts to keep the fiscal deficit at around these numbers," he said.
Mukherjee said the government would be closely monitoring revenue and expenditure trends and take steps as deemed appropriate.
The government proposes to bring the fiscal deficit down to 4.6 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during 2011-12 from 4.7 per cent in the previous fiscal.
"The fiscal policy stance for 2011-12 remained broadly on the consolidation track, complementing the monetary policy stance," he said.
Although half of the fiscal is over, the government has only raised Rs 1,144 crore from a stake sale in Power Finance Corporation (PFC). The government had set an ambitious disinvestment target of Rs 40,000 crore for the current fiscal.
The Income Tax Department has already decided to raise the direct tax collection target for the current fiscal by Rs 53,000 crore to Rs 5.85 lakh crore.
Mukherjee further said, "There could be a potential upside in revenue collection in the current fiscal."
He said the government was able to bring down the fiscal deficit to 4.7 per cent in 2010-11 from the originally planned 5.5 per cent on account of inflows from the 3G auctions, but said a similar situation is not expected this year.
In order to meet its expenditure requirements in the second half of the fiscal, the government had last month decided to borrow Rs 52,800 crore more from the market, over-and-above the Rs 4.17 lakh crore budget plan for the fiscal.
According to government estimates, small savings during the first quarter (April-June) of the current fiscal declined by Rs 26,542 crore. They had increased by Rs 13,250 crore in the same period last year.
Pranab back CAG reports
Pranab Mukherjee backed the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in the
context of reports on various scams, saying the government auditor has not exceeded his jurisdiction.
"I am making it clear that I do not think that CAG is exceeding its jurisdiction or things like that, because basic responsibility of the CAG is to identify, if there is any, lapse," he said during a question-answer session at the Economic Editors conference here on Wednesday.
The statement is significant in view of the attacks from some quarters in the government criticising the CAG for exceeding its mandate. CAG's reports on 2G spectrum allocation and Commonwealth Games had evoked sharp reaction from the government functionaries.
"So far as the role of the CAG is concerned, it is a constitutional role. As far as my knowledge about the functioning of the CAG is concerned, the job of CAG is only to find out financial irregularities...in context of rules, laws and regulations as laid down by the government," he said.
He further said, "If out of 100, in 98 cases government has done the correct things, they will ignore it. They just pick up only those two things where some irregularities have taken place".
A CAG report, Mukherjee said, "is not automatically accepted by Parliament. PAC examines it; they submit a report; and then if the report is accepted by Parliament, action takes place."
New Delhi: Dismissing the 'popular' perception about policy paralysis, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday declared that a slew of reforms measures are on the anvil but said the government cannot go ahead fast on them because of lack of numbers in the Parliament.
Announcing a slew of reforms measures that will include starting of a couple of Infrastructure Debt Funds and passage of various legislations, he told Economic Editors Conference that legislations can be passed if parties cooperate.