A look at Jaitley’s record:
1. Goods and Services Tax
The biggest tax reform in decades, rolled out in July 2017, has found a better foothold now after some initial glitches. Jaitley’s untiring patience during long negotiations with stakeholders before and after the rollout is widely acknowledged. He is also credited with getting all the states on board.
2. Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC)
This might well be regarded as a bigger reform than GST in the years to come. For the first time, an orderly, timebound framework was in place to deal with bankruptcies. CRISIL has said Rs 70,000 crore has been recovered via IBC in FY19. Quoting an Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India report, it said almost Rs 2.02 lakh crore of debt pertaining to 4,452 cases has been settled even before being admitted under IBC.
3. Monetary Policy Committee
Jaitley was instrumental in ensuring a clear framework was in place to set interest rates under a panel of govt nominees and RBI officials, and in also setting an inflation target (4%) for the central bank.
4. NPA Clean-up
The process of cleaning banks’ books began under Jaitley’s watch. It has helped at least some state-run banks post better numbers.
5. Bank Consolidation
Although earlier governments had expressed the need for and benefit of merging state-run banks, the process started when Jaitley was FM. Five associate banks of State Bank of India and Bharatiya Mahila Bank were merged with SBI, and Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank were merged with Bank of Baroda.
6. Macro Stabilisation
Jaitley often said how the Modi govt has transformed a “weak economy”. Macro indicators Improved dramatically under his watch. India emerged from the Fragile Five category to become a “bright spark”, he would say.
7. FDI Liberalisation
Jaitley pushed foreign direct investment reforms and batted for higher overseas investment limits in defence, insurance and aviation, among others. Foreign Investment Promotion Board was abolished for smoother flow of overseas money.
8. Budget Reforms
Jaitley was for advancing the budget date to improve public spending. Under him, the govt also did away with the presentation of a separate railway budget.
War on Benami Deals
He led the Modi government’s anti-black money crusade. He offered black money-holders a chance to come clean through an income disclosure scheme. Then came the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Bill to crack down on benami deals.
A panel headed by Jaitley decided to raise buffer stocks of pulses by over five times instead of tame rising prices. As finance minister, he also steered the financial inclusion drive of the NDA government.