The UPA government's decision to bring retrospective taxation was an "important defining moment" which harmed the investment climate in the country and its revival will be the first big challenge if BJP comes to power, BJP leader Arun Jaitley today said.
In an obvious show of his party's opposition to the retrospective taxation, he said it is not imposed to create new liabilities. It was a big factor in the damage of investment environment in the country under the UPA rule, he said in an interaction with foreign journalists.
"The concept of retrospective taxation world over exists only to legitimise what has already been collected... I do feel that among the various reasons why the investment environment in India has suffered under the UPA it was an important defining moment," Jaitley said.
The new government, he said, will have the onus of recreating the investment cycle. We have to reassure the domestic and foreign investors that India is once again a great place for doing businesses, he said.
Wary of being seen critical of numerous welfare schemes started by the government, which have been blamed for poor fiscal health, he said state intervention was needed for poverty alleviation but added that these schemes could be linked with assets creation.
He took potshots at the Congress government's rights-based approach and said conferring rights to education and health did not help if public education and health system are not effective.
"What is more important in India is to effectively implementation... Conferring them in law and not implementing them renders them into a mere slogan," he said.
If voted to power, he said the BJP government would involve state chief ministers in decision-making process for expeditious clearance of projects.
The ease of doing business would return in a Narendra Modi-led government, Jaitley said.
"A very large energy of the UPA was spent in raising objections why a project should not be... And the PM never had the last word," he said as he spelt out the BJP government's economic vision. All pending projects will have to be cleared immediately, he said.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram followed a "desperate" route by cutting down on expenditure on all development sectors to meet the fiscal deficit target and we will be aiming at expanding economic activities, he said.
He sidestepped queries on the likely ministers in the BJP-led government, saying their priority is not who gets what but to "get rid" of this regime.
Jaitley reiterated BJP's opposition to the FDI in multi-brand retail but went on to add that it should not be interpreted to mean that "we have any reservation about FDI in India".