1991 reforms half-baked, Modi govt went for changes: Finance minister | India News

NEW DELHI: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said that the 1991 reforms were half-baked and the Modi government had to initiate fundamental systemic changes after sweeping to power in 2014, while ensuring that the needs of the poor and the marginalised are fully taken care of.
At a book release function in Mumbai, Sitharaman, who spoke in Hindi, said that the reforms undertaken since 2014 have helped India become the fifth largest economy, a feat that should have been achieved several years ago, but the economy was hobbled by a wrong model.
She said that the economic philosophy followed post-Independence was not in line with Indian ethos and socialism had been imported from abroad, resulting in licences and regulations with people making money in the middle.
“In 1991, the economy was liberalised. The opening of the economy was done due to compulsions and was not done properly. Due to the balance of payments crisis, we needed help from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and we agreed to conditions imposed by them, while doing away with socialism. Both are against the Indian ethos. We started with half-baked reforms in 1991,” she said. She attacked the “self-serving” UPA government for what she described as a reign of corruption and said the reforms on infrastructure and GST, initiated by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government could not be taken forward.
“Since 2014, the PM (Narendra Modi) has announced a series of reforms. Our responsibility was to fix it (the economy), instead of creating a fear about it. That is why the PM prioritised reforms despite the absence of numbers in Rajya Sabha. We managed to put in place GST, IBC and a support mechanism for agriculture. While focusing on reforms, the government did not forget to take care of the common man’s requirements,” the FM said, while acknowledging that she was not as fluent in Hindi as she was in Tamil or Telugu.
Sitharaman said the government had moved ahead several crucial changes, such as the abrogation of Article 370, which was a key demand from the Jan Sangh days.
“Political parties don’t remember that Nehru had said that Article 370 isn’t permanent and Congress didn’t touch it. As a result, the Jammu & Kashmir economy could not improve. Money was going, like to another state, but development was not commensurate. Women didn’t enjoy the same rights,” she said. She also said the government had moved ahead with disinvestment of Air India, which was on the back burner for several years, despite mounting losses.

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