Indian Minister Jaitley Defends Demonetization, GST at USISPF

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

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Washington, DC – Visiting Indian Finance Minister on Friday evening (October 13) participated in a discussion to highlight the Indian government’s agenda to key American business representatives, along with the US and Indian government leaders.

“US companies and investors are very much aware of the reforms the Indian government is making in order to expand the economy,” said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley at the Willard Hotel here. “This conversation tonight highlighted the clear potential of growth in investment and trade that exists between India and the US,” Jaitley told a select audience at a reception and fireside chat hosted by the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF).

The event closed a week of meetings that the Minister attended in the United States, including the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. During the fireside chat, Minister Jaitley’s remarks focused on the reforms that the Indian government is making with regards to banking and investment.

Listing oft-repeated claims of reforms to make it easier to do business in India, Jaitley noted the (Narendra) Modi government took “a series of courageous steps which ultimately culminated in demonetization of high- value currency.” It may be noted that demonetization caused great inconvenience to the common man and there was widespread anger over the move, according to reports from India.

On a newly introduced Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India, Jaitley argued in its favor calling it, “a more efficient system which has brought the country together, even economically, allowed free flow of goods and services across the country.” But the minister had to accept the ongoing disruption the move has caused and conceded that this could continue for a quarter or two.

Moderating the conversation and the Q&A panel, Mukesh Aghi, President of USISPF noted the importance of the Minister’s visit, saying “India has witnessed vast reforms and gained an ability for significant economic growth under the leadership of both Prime Minister Modi and Finance Minister Jaitley.”

“With future reforms and increased partnership between US and Indian businesses, there is promising potential for this already important relationship,” Aghi sounded a positive note.

Members of the USISPF audience included senior representatives from companies such as Apple, Boeing, Deloitte, Exxon Mobile, Lockheed Martin International, and Google. Senior officials from US Department of Agriculture, US Department of Commerce, US Department of Defense, US Department of the Treasury, US Department of State, US Senate, and the US House of Representatives also attended, along with leaders of non-governmental organizations including: The World Bank, Stimson Center, Center for Strategic and International Studies, The Cohen Group, and Albright Stonebridge Group. In addition, the audience featured senior members from the Government of India, along with Export-Import Bank of India and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

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