Arun Jaitley, an acclaimed lawyer and senior BJP leader, sworn in as Cabinet minister in the new government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, is set to bag finance and defence portfolios.
Industry, corporate and stock market leaders hailed Jaitely's appointment and were confident that with his expertise and knowledge he would do justice to the role.
Jaitley (63) was a minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government during 1998-2004 and held various portfolios, including law, justice and company affairs.
Fiscal prudence, simplification and stability in tax laws, impetus to growth and encouraging investment in capital markets were identified as some of the key priorities for the new finance minister.
Arun Maira, a former member of Planning Commission, who has worked with Jaitley earlier when he was in ministry of commerce and industry, said, "Jaitley is very focused and business-like person. He is very clear and focussed on getting things done. He should be able to win confidence of business community back with clear communication."
According to Maira, Goods and Service Tax implementation should be Jaitley's top priority. "Many state governments are now run by BJP and hence Jaitley should be able to quickly implement it." Apart form this, honesty and transparency regarding the current fiscal situation of the country should bring lot of trust, he said.
R S Sodhi, managing director, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd, which makes Amul brand of products, said initiating policies to strengthen rupee, getting back growth rate to 8%, clearing infrastructure projects to drive growth and employment should be on top of the agenda for the new FM.
"The entire industry was expecting him to take up finance portfolio, he will be able to drive it through his knowledge and expertise," Sodhi said. Future Group founder and chief executive, Kishor Biyani, called Jaitley a good listener and an intellectual man and said Modi's selection augurs well for industry.
Milind Barve, managing director at HDFC Asset Management Co, said Jaitley had great credentials to fulfill the given responsibility. Barve hoped that new FM simplifies tax laws.
"India always had high savings rates but it needs to be harnessed for more productivity by encouraging investment in products like mutual funds and insurance. Hope investment in capital markets will be restored."
Ease of doing business, opening up sectors, creating business friendly environment and consistent tax laws could be some of other priorities of the new finance minister, Barve said.
Jaitley graduated from Shri Ram College of Commerce in Delhi and later pursued law at Delhi University. An election strategist who has scripted many a victory, Jaitley is into his third term as Rajya Sabha member and has been the leader of the opposition in the upper house since last five years.