Demonetisation, GST to simplify system, bring down corruption: Gadkari

Demonetisation and the shift to Goods and Services Tax will “simplify the system and bring down corruption,” for long-term benefit, assured Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways.

“We are marching towards a cashless economy, and converting with the latest technology. The system is changing, economic approach is changing, and in a few years the change will happen even at the grass roots level,” he felt.

Even now, 10 per cent of toll collections are digital and in three months this will increase to 50 per cent.

In a pre-Budget interaction with industrialists organised by BusinessLine and the Confederation of Indian Industry, he said the slowdown in economic growth following demonetisation is a “transitory period.”

Referring to the government declaring on November 8 that the ₹500 and ₹1,000 denomination currencies would no longer be legal tender, he said “demonetisation is essential” but in the preliminary stage people are facing problems.

However, “the gravity of the problem is coming down,” he felt.

India will sustain its position as the fastest growing economy. The situation is improving “day by day and within two months we will achieve normal levels,” he said.

GST is a key issue for the states and the Centre and ‘on April 1 the Centre will implement’ the new tax regime, he assured. Discussions are on with the states to resolve any issues, the Minister said.

The focus of the Centre’s policy is on job generation with increased industrial investments and the “basic spirit is also to enhance the rural economy, agriculture and infrastructure development, including power, irrigation and R&D in the primary sector.” The emphasis is also on infrastructure growth spanning roads, inland waterways, power and ports.

R Srinivasan, Editor, BusinessLine, said the paper acts as an intermediary between industry and policy makers and creates a platform for discussion and debate ahead of the Budget to be presented on February 1, at a critical juncture. There is the challenge of growth and the country is at the cusp of change with the proposed GST.

Shobana Kamineni, Executive Vice-Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals, and president-designate CII, said the government has to come out clearly on the impact of demonetisation that resulted in 70 per cent of the currency being pulled out of circulation. The currency shortage has impacted small industries and businesses the most. The money with the banks has to be used in funding to increase consumption and start the investment cycle.