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Govt clears issue of tax-free bonds by Railways, highways

PTI     April 8, 2015

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Wednesday the proposal to allow railways and highways to issue tax-free bonds has been cleared, and the government is committed to push the land acquisition bill to promote growth and generate jobs.

"I today cleared a proposal for both (highways and railways) these sectors to have a large investment by way of tax-free bonds," Jaitley said while speaking at a book launch function.

The FM, however, did not disclose details about the bonds.

The Minister had announced a series of steps in his budget speech to boost investment in infrastructure.

To a question related to land bill, Jaitley said the government has majority in the Lok Sabha as well as in both houses taken together.

"...and therefore we are just going straight constitutional way when there is a conflict over particular law, how is that is to be passed and we firmly believe it's a law which is going to help India and therefore, those changes are required," he said.

The passage of the bill, he said, was important for creation of rural infrastructure, like irrigation and roads.

He added that the government is committed to a "particular roadmap" and "just because somebody says I will block this reform.... I have said it repeatedly, let this be parliamentary struggle between reform and obstructionism".

Jaitley also stressed the low phase in economy over the last few years "is over" and the NDA government has taken steps to boost investments in various sectors, like insurance, defence, coal and mines.

"...for a country like India, which is currently targeting about 8 per cent growth and eventually targeting even higher growth rate, in this renewed environment, I think probably the roadmap (laid by the government) does indicate that we are going to do much better than what we had in previous year," the Minister said.

To a query on accountability of corporates, Jaitley said governments are always accountable and added in lighter vein that journalists are least accountable, and followed closely by judges.

"Governments are always accountable...politicians as a class are accountable...In fact we are accountable everyday to the media, Parliament, voters. We can be kicked out of power. Corporate India is also accountable because if they fail then they exit the market. There is no place for failure. These are among the more accountable institutions. The least accountable institutions are, first the media and a very close second is the judges".

Replying to a question on centralisation of power in the government, Jaitley said the previous government had "a lot of centralisation but outside the government".

On the present government, he said "a strong leader as Prime Minister is strength of democracy".


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