Washington, April 22 (IANS) Rejecting opposition charges of a policy paralysis on reforms back home, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today that the United Progressive Alliance was going ahead with a series of reforms to spur the economy.
“Reforms is a continuing process. It’s not that you can stop and go,” he told reporters here at the end his four-day visit to attend the spring meetings of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
Starting with the opening of the Indian economy in the 1990s, with changes in the industrial, foreign investment and foreign trade policies, India has continued on the reform path, Mukherjee said unfazed by Chief Economic Advisor Kaushik Basu’s reported remark to a think tank here that major reforms were unlikely before the 2014 general elections.
“Recently we have announced the new manufacturing policy and in the budget I had announced a series of measures to liberalise investment in external commercial borrowings,” he noted. A mechanism had also been introduced to attract investment from abroad for long term fund requirement in the infrastructure sector.
“Therefore, you cannot say that this is the reform and it has been completed,” Mukherjee said. “It’s a continuing process. It’s an ongoing process.”
On the legislative front, there are a couple of measures on the anvil and he would try to get parliament’s approval on three important bills to amend insurance, pension fund and banking laws either in the current budget session or the next one, he said.
Asked if the Indian electorate had an appetite for reforms, Mukherjee said that recent provincial elections were no reflection of people’s mood on reforms.
Going by the national elections where the Congress party, “a pioneer of reforms” increased its seats in parliament from 147 in 2004 to 207 in 2009, there was clearly an appetite for reforms in India, he said.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)