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As The Election Nears, India’s Opposition Promises Several Economic Steps

Modi said at the Delhi convention that the opposition was working on a "desperate alliance," while the BJP would give a "strong government."

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Rahul Gandhi, Election
Rahul Gandhi, president of India's main opposition Congress Party, speaks at a rally ahead of October's 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 11, 2019. VOA

India’s main opposition Congress Party will simplify the goods and services tax (GST) and make “rational economic decisions” to attract foreign investment if voted back to power in a general election due by May, leader Rahul Gandhi said Saturday.

Launched in 2017, the GST was initially hailed as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s biggest economic reform as it replaced more than a dozen federal and state levies and unified Asia’s third-largest economy.

But its chaotic implementation and complexities — months after a shock ban by Modi on high-value bank currency aimed at unearthing untaxed wealth — badly hurt small businesses and led to millions of job losses in the cash-driven economy, presenting the biggest challenge to Modi’s re-election chances.

India,India, elections, BJP
India’s Congress party President Rahul Gandhi displays documents in New Delhi, India. VOA

 

Gandhi, scion of India’s Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, said during a visit to Dubai that foreign investment was at a multiyear low in India because of the “ill-advised and badly thought out economic moves” such as the currency ban and a “poorly designed GST.”

Quick growth promised

“We will take some rational economic decisions,” he told a press conference, which was broadcast live on Twitter. “We will restructure the GST and we will embrace investments from the Middle East and other parts of the world. We are the party of [India’s economic] liberalization; we are the party that gave the fastest economic growth in the first decade of the century, and will do that again.”

He said his main priority would be to create jobs, simplify the GST, rebuild confidence in institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India — whose governor resigned recently after a fight over autonomy with the government, and the Supreme Court.

Modi, election
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, is garlanded by BJP leaders on the first day of the two-day Bharatiya Janata Party national convention in New Delhi, Jan. 11, 2019. VOA

 

Four Supreme Court judges held a rare press conference early last year, saying that “unless this institution is preserved and it maintains its equanimity, democracy will not survive in this country.”

Modi told a BJP convention in New Delhi on Saturday that for Congress “every institution was wrong and only they were right.”

The Congress press conference was organized by the Indian Overseas Congress, which is present in about 35 countries, as Gandhi tries to reach out to rich Indians living abroad for funds and social media support for the party that has dominated the country’s politics for decades before being nearly decimated in the last general election in 2014 by Modi.

But back home, Gandhi received a jolt when bitter rivals, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP), announced an election tie-up without Congress in Uttar Pradesh state, which sends the highest number of lawmakers to the lower house of parliament.

Narendra Modi, India, election
Elaborate preparations for PM’s election rally. VOA

“The BSP and SP have made a political decision,” Gandhi said. “It’s on us on how to strengthen the Congress Party in Uttar Pradesh and we will fight with our full capacity. Whether we do or their alliance does, the BJP is not winning there.”

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Modi said at the Delhi convention that the opposition was working on a “desperate alliance,” while the BJP would give a “strong government.”

The Hindu nationalist BJP lost power in three key states recently, forcing the government to announce a flurry of measures to woo small businesses and the less well-off since then. (VOA)

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Automotive Industry To Benefit From Corporate Tax Cut, Says ICRA

India's automotive industry is likely to be one of the key beneficiaries of the recent corporate tax cut, credit ratings agency ICRA said on Monday

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India, Tax cut, Automotive Industry
India's automotive industry is likely to be one of the key beneficiaries of the recent corporate tax cut. Wikimedia Commons

India’s automotive industry is likely to be one of the key beneficiaries of the recent corporate tax cut, credit ratings agency ICRA said on Monday.

“Under the current weak demand conditions, OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) are expected to pass on some of the benefits of tax revision to the end consumers,” ICRA Vice President and Sector Head Pavethra Ponniah was quoted in a statement.

“This implies that the price correction in coming months will to an extent address the demand side issues. Moreover, clarity from the government, that there is no further GST or cess revision, will help consumers who were waiting for improved clarity prior to their car purchase decision,” she added.

According to ICRA, the current reduction of corporate tax rates in India to globally competitive levels will incentivise OEMs and their vendors to increase localisation, which augurs well for the industry.

In 2019-2020, India has imported auto components worth $17.6 billion.

India, Tax cut, Automotive Industry
the current reduction of corporate tax rates in India to globally competitive levels will incentivise OEMs and their vendors to increase localisation. Pixabay

ICRA also said that given the increasing US-China trade tensions, revision in corporate tax will attract FDI in Indian manufacturing sector, as the revised tax structure is now in line with other emerging markets.

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“In the current fiscal, the Indian automotive industry, especially the passenger vehicle segment, has witnessed one of the worst slides since the last two decades because of multiple factors,” the ratings agency said in a statement.

“Tighter financing environment for consumers and the liquidity crunch faced by dealerships coupled with weak farm income and overall slowdown in economic activity has impacted consumer sentiments and purchasing behaviour,” the statement added. (IANS)