Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, during a session at the India Today Conclave South 2021, said the BJP government has a clear vision for the next 10-15 years to achieve the $5 trillion economy goal. Apart from the economic situation of the country, Sitharaman also talked about the BJP's rising popularity in the south, her party's plans for the upcoming assembly elections in four states and a UT, and the rising fuel prices across the country. While elaborating on the economic situation, Sitharaman said the Centre has given a push towards "self-reliance".
"What we have done and what has been steadily been done between 2014-19 and even now is to convey this message that we trust Indian citizens, we trust our businesses, we have faith in them and therefore we want to give them maximum opportunities."
The finance minister said to achieve these goals, the Centre has worked towards bringing reforms. "That means ease of doing business will have to be undertaken, laws will have to be primed and many of the outdated laws will have to be removed. And further look at how states can take this agenda forward," she added.
She said the Centre truly believes that its presence should be limited to only core sectors. "We have now set ourselves up with a policy, which says the government's presence in the form of some public sector enterprises will be there in some core sectors and even there, we will only be the bare minimum in our presence."
She said the private sector is playing a major role in the nation's growth, and that the government is a facilitator rather than a strict regulator.
She also shared her views on the unprecedented rise in fuel prices in India, saying it's an issue that involves both the states and the Centre. "Even if you assume that the Centre collects more tax on fuel than states, everything that the Centre collects, at least 42 per cent of it goes to the states," she said.
"So, I may collect 100 rupees, but 42 rupees goes to the states from that. To point out that the Centre collects more than states is wrong," Sitharaman said.
On a question about when people could expect a cut in fuel taxes, she cited the Model Code of Conduct in place but said both the Centre and states must discuss the issue in detail.
On the changing political situation in the south, Sitharaman said the BJP can't be called a party of the north and that it has gained a lot of traction in the state by focussing on development and cultural aspects.
"Groups with vested interest have always tried projecting the BJP as the party of the North, the party of upper caste, and a party which has no respect for Tamil Nadu," she said. She, however, said that the BJP has successfully "shattered" this narrative.
She said the BJP has done everything in its capacity for Tamil Nadu. "Even with one MP, we have done everything we could for Tamil Nadu in five years. Even now, we are doing a lot more," the FM said.
The FM said Prime Minister Narendra Modi took "Tamil everywhere in the world with a sense of pride and happiness".
On upcoming assembly elections, FM Sitharaman said the BJP, along with the alliance, will form the government in Puducherry, it will form the government in Tamil Nadu and we will perform well in Kerala.
"Assam we are coming back, and in Bengal, our performance will be brilliant. I would probably tell within a week or a bit later, that we are indeed forming the government in Bengal too," she said.
In the context of assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, Sitharaman said more than about Rs 3 lakh crore worth of projects are in the process of getting completed in the state.
"Every aspect of Tamil Nadu has been attended to and as an industrial state, it has received every attention that an industrial state should get, from the Modi government between 2014 and 2019 and even now," Sitharaman added.