Economic reforms are bound to face resistance and, hence, must be insulated from political pressure, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday, but emphasised that such policy should also be “people-centric and people-driven”.
Modi’s comments made at a private retreat of G20 leaders in Brisbane come days before the start of the winter session of parliament in which key but controversial legislation on opening up the pensions and insurance sectors are expected to be taken up. The government may also seek to tweak the contentious new land acquisition law.
These policy moves are seen as crucial to encouraging large investors, many of who have been disappointed by the incremental pace of reforms being pursued by Modi’s government. India needs big-ticket investments to create millions of new jobs for its burgeoning youth population.
“Reform is bound to face resistance … (it) must be insulated from political pressures,” Modi told fellow G20 leaders over a barbeque lunch at a retreat hosted by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the Queensland Parliament House. He said reforms should lead to simplification of processes and that methods of governance must be reformed.
The Prime Minister also made it clear that reforms have to be driven by the people and that it cannot be undertaken by “stealth”.
Asserting that reform must be people-centric and people-driven, he said globally reforms are handicapped by the perception that they are government programmes and a burden on the people, a view that needs to change.
He said reforms were a continuous multi-stage process and that they must be institutionalised, technology-driven and must have scale and be able to address root causes.
Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott in his opening statement at the summit in Brisbane vowed that world leaders would deliver on an initiative to add $2 trillion to global GDP, promising freer trade and more investment in infrastructure.
Abbott, who has repeatedly promised this year’s G20 gathering in the Australian city of Brisbane would be more than a “talkfest”, said the growth plans would add millions of jobs and boost global GDP by “more than 2%” above expected levels over the next five years.
Speaking at a separate meeting with leaders of the BRICS grouping of developing nations, Modi said that repatriation of black money from abroad was a “priority” for his government, and sought close global coordination to achieve this objective. He said slush funds posed security challenges as well.
The prime minister has committed to bringing back every penny of black money stashed abroad.
G20 host Australia has vowed a “very aggressive” crackdown on tax avoidance. India is also seeking strong action by the Group of 20 industrialised and emerging economies against tax havens.
On international security, Modi said success against global terrorism could be within reach if countries adopt a common strategy. he call for a common strategy by Modi came during his bilateral meeting with French President Francois Hollande on the sidelines of the G20 summit.
Modi’s remarks came against the backdrop of US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel’s comments that the US-led air war against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will intensify and that the American people must prepare for a long and difficult struggle.
ISIS or IS is an al-Qaeda splinter group which has seized hundreds of square miles inside Iraq and Syria, declaring the region under their control an Islamic Caliphate