India has the potential to grow at a reasonably high level in the next decade or two, owing to some structural changes by the government and a turnaround in the global economy, said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The whole environment of doing business has changed in a matter of months, Jaitley told a Washington audience at an event organised by the US-India Strategic and Partnership Forum.
"India has the potential to grow at a reasonably highlevel in the next one-two decades. This is mainly because ofthe series of structural reforms being carried out by thegovernment, turnaround in the global economy, and the massiveinvestment opportunity that the infrastructure sector offers,"said Jaitley.
"I am certain that now that the growth is returning backto the world, the future holds an important direction as faras India is concerned. The sheer size of the country andeconomy would offer huge opportunity for investment in Indiain the next few years," he said.
Jaitley said that when the BJP government came to powerin 2014, it had the choice to look the other way and allow the shadow economy to continue. "But it did not do so, as it took a series of courageous steps which ultimately culminated in demonetisation of high-value currency," the finance minister said. The government knew that there would be short-term impact on the economy, Jaitley said, "but, in the long term, it would benefit the country," he told a gathering of investors and corporate leaders.
In an effort to pitch India as an investor-friendly destination, the finance minister said that his government hadtaken a series of steps to improve the ease of doing business.
"India today is one of the most open, globally integrated economy. In the last few years, we are moving up the ease of doing business ranking," he said, as he listed out some of the key initiatives by his government. Among these are the "massive steps" that the Indian government has taken in using new digital technologies for governance and making them beneficial to the people, Jaitley said.
"Today, almost everyone is connected to the banking system. Almost every adult in India has biometric. The integrated data has helped the government to reach everycitizen on digital platform," he said.
"This has helped us save billions of dollars," he said,adding that India is now using technology "in a big way" inorder to ensure that the resources reaches the intended population.
Speaking about the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Jaitley said it was "a more efficient system which has brought thecountry together, even economically, allowed free flow ofgoods and services across the country."
However, he conceded, that it could cause disruption fora quarter or two. The event closed a week of meetings that the minister attended in the US, including the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Members of the USISPF audience included senior representatives from companies such as Apple, Boeing, Google,etc. while senior officials from different departments of the US government also participated in the programme.
Mukesh Aghi, president of USISPF, noted the importance ofthe minister's visit, saying India had witnessed vast reforms and gained an ability for significant economic growth in the last few years thereby opening it to huge investment potential.
"US companies and investors are very much aware of thereforms the Indian government is making in order to expand the economy," he said. "With future reforms and increased partnership between US and Indian businesses, there is promising potential for this already important relationship," he said.