Strong economic growth in states is “imperative” for pushing up the country’s GDP and giving it a “cutting edge” to fight poverty and generate jobs, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Friday.
He also said that additional growth has to come from eastern states like West Bengal where industrialisation had suffered because of the policies followed in the last 35 years.
“In a global situation which is so adverse, India’s GDP growth is 7.5 percent. Is it difficult to add 1 percent more which will give us that cutting edge to fight poverty and generate jobs?” Jaitley said at the second edition of Bengal Global Business Meet here.
“Given the structure of India’s federal polity, it is imperative that the states grow as well. Despite political differences, strong states mean a stronger India. West Bengal contributes nearly 6 to 7 percent of national GDP. Given the fact that growth of the eastern states was lower than those of the western states, the additional growth will have to come from the former,” he said.
Referring to West Bengal, he said industrialisation in the state had suffered due to policies pursued in the last three and half decades.
“Summits of these kinds held every year clearly demonstrate the intention that the need of the hour is to generate growth, increase revenue and fight poverty for which investments are required,” he said.
“It is in this context that West Bengal that has lost its glory of the past could be restored and I assure you that the Centre will give all its support to the state’s endeavour to attract investments,” Jaitley said.
If Bengal followed such a policy, it would be able to generate jobs and revenue needed to fight poverty, else would have to fall back on shallow political slogans, he said.
Jaitley said investors anxiously look forward to an environment to see their investments yield results. “If you are not in a position to attract that, then investments will dry up,” he cautioned.
Nationally, the services sector has improved, while greenshoots are visible in manufacturing, he said.
“Our priority will be to enhance public expenditure in infrastructure, social infrastructure, enhance expenditure on the rural sector,” he added.
Jaitley said the Centre had been following a policy to economically empower the states for which it had readily agreed to the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission.
“West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra is regularly in touch with us and all issues are cleared expeditiously despite political differences,” he said.
Jaitley, who attended the summit second time in a row, shared the dais with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
The summit was also attended, among others, by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, UK Employment Minister Priti Patel, Bhutan Tshering Togbay, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and industrialists Mukesh Ambani, Mohan Das Pai, Subhas Chandra Sajjan Jindal and others.