The Telegraph
Sunday , August 3 , 2014
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Pranab tip to make GST a success

President Pranab Mukherjee with Bengal governor K.N.Tripathi in Calcutta on Saturday. Picture by Kishor Roy Chowdhury

Calcutta, Aug. 2: President Pranab Mukherjee today said states needed to come on board and develop an appropriate mechanism to roll out goods and services tax (GST).

“If you want GST, unless we can get the states on board through some mechanism, we will have difficulties,” Mukherjee said.

Mukherjee, who had been a finance minister in the previous UPA regime, also stressed the need to improve both physical and social infrastructure.

While expressing his views at the annual general meeting of the Indian Chambers of Commerce here today, Mukherjee, however, was candid enough to admit that constitutional responsibilities associated with the President’s office refrained him from commenting on policy making.

“It is expected that others will speak and I shall listen,” he said.

According to Mukherjee, of the $1-trillion investment required to build physical infrastructure by 2017, around 50 per cent should come from the private sector through the public-private partnership mode.

To build social infrastructure, work has to be done at both the primary and tertiary levels of healthcare.

In education, despite the higher allocations, a large number of people are unskilled even as 200 million jobs are slated to be added by 2020, the President pointed out.

According to Mukherjee, a sustained average growth rate of 8-9 per cent is required to address the issue of poverty alleviation. To meet that target, the gap between domestic savings and investments would have to be bridged.

“To meet the investment requirements, the role of investment surplus countries come into play. I am glad that the government is fully aware of this and has taken appropriate steps in that regard,” Mukherjee said referring to the NDA government’s efforts to bring in more FDI.

In the period between 2003-04 and 2013-14, the Indian economy registered an average GDP growth rate of 7.9 per cent. “I do not know in Indian history, if we had this level of GDP growth, this being a decade when there had been a major economic crisis in 2008,” Mukherjee said.