The upcoming Budget, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has hinted, will not be a populist one. “It’s a myth that the common man expects freebies and sops from the government,” he said.
In a TV interview, he also pledged that his government will stay on the course of the reforms agenda that has pulled out India from being among the ‘fragile five’ economies of the world to being a ‘bright spot’.
Defending his economic policies, Modi said demonetisation was “a very big success story” and that he was open to changes in the new Goods and Services Tax (GST) to plug loopholes and make it a more efficient ‘one-nation-one- tax’ system.
He rejected criticism of providing a jobless growth, saying “lies” were being spread about employment generation and his government’s policies were oriented towards creating jobs.
Regarding farm distress, he was quoted as saying by a news agency that it was the responsibility of the Centre and the state governments to identify and address farmers’ issues.
Asked if his government will turn populist in its last full-year Budget before the general elections in 2019, Modi said the issue falls under the ambit of the finance minister and he does not want to interfere in it.
“But those who have seen me as the chief minister (of Gujarat) and also as the prime minister (would know) common man does not want all these things. It is a myth,” he said.
The common man, he said, expects honest governance. “He doesn’t demand sops and freebies. It is our myth.”
Modi reportedly said his government was taking decisions to fulfil the needs and aspirations of the common man.
Asked specifically if he will resist populism in the Budget to be presented on February 1, he said it needs to be decided if the country needs to grow and become strong, should “this political culture, the Congress culture, be followed”.
On job-less growth, the prime minister said, “Lies are being spread about employment generation.”
He told Times Now that the formal sector accounts for 10 per cent of the employment and the remaining 90 per cent jobs are in the informal sector.
In last one year, 70 lakh new retirement fund or EPF accounts have been opened for the youth between 18 and 25 years of age, he said. “Doesn’t this show new employment,” he asked.
Stating that there are no statistics for people working the informal sector, he said there are new chartered accountants, lawyers, doctors and consultants who have joined the vocation since 2014.
Doubling of road construction in last three years could not have happened without employing people and so was doubling rate of rail track laying, he reportedly said.
Also, programmes like electrification and work on ports gathering pace could not have happened without generating employment, he added.
The prime minister reportedly said his government’s policies promote employment particularly in sectors like textile and leather.
Also, providing loans to 10 crore non-corporates and small businesses under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) has created entrepreneurs and jobs, he said.
The prime minister was quoted as saying by a news agency that people will realise the good work of his government only when they compare it the previous 10- year rule of the Congress-led UPA