Rolling out GST, rationalising direct taxes and ensuring further ease of doing business will be at the top of his agenda in the New Year, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Sunday and also promised more money into physical and social infrastructure in 2016.
He also said that "there are areas (in which) we have to respond faster", although the country responded well to the challenges posed by the slowdown in global economy during 2015 and the growth rate will improve further in "months to come".
Outlining his top priority areas for 2016, the Finance Minister said he would continue with structural reforms and the priorities would include GST, rationalising direct taxes, and further easing the system of doing business.
"After having done that, I would like to concentrate essentially on three things - more money for physical infrastructure, more money on social infrastructure and lastly more money on irrigation because that is a neglected sector," Jaitley told PTI in an interview.
He dismissed the grumblings about the economy not having taken off as "cynicism" and said India has performed well in "a year of turmoil and volatility" globally.
Looking back at 2015, Jaitley said India has been the bright spot with growth prospects of 7-7.5 per cent despite global slowdown and adversities, and expressed optimism that the growth rate which is "quite good" would improve further in the months to come.
"As the year ends, I look back with a sense of great satisfaction," Jaitley said while underlining that India's fiscal fundamentals are "extremely sound".
Asked about murmurs that the economy has not really taken off, Jaitley dismissed such grumblings as without merit and said that "the revenue collections do not go up without the economy taking off".
"Cynicism is a way of life in India. You can question any other data but you cannot question the actual rise of revenue and the actual rise of revenue is showing that the economy is doing better," he said.
Asked whether the Indian industry was also prone to such cynicism, Jaitley said, "Well, I think a section of the Indian industry has overstretched itself and those who have overstretched themselves see this as a universal problem."