Christine Lagarde India
Christine Lagarde IndiaReuters

India's Finance Minister Arun Jaitley expressed confidence that the trinity of India, Asia and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) could play a major role in helping stabilise the world economy, which has been hit by a slowdown. He was delivering the closing remarks at the IMF's Advancing Asia Conference in New Delhi on Sunday. 

"I am sure this partnership between the IMF and Asia and India, which as a country can play an important role in itself, can contribute to the global economy," he said.

India is relatively well placed today in a slowing world economy, represents hope amongst the "worries of geopolitical situations, Chinese slowdown and the concerns of a protectionist showdown from developed nations," he added.

India the bright spot

While thanking the IMF to have consistently identified India as a bright spot, the minister gave due credit to his government's increased determination to face challenge and internalise a faster pace of reforms. "Given the global situation we too had our share of problems," he emphasised.

However, he accepted that two of the major issues in making India an attractive investment destination are still a work in progress. One, to bring more ease in the environment for people to do business. And the other, to rationalise taxation, bringing it closer to international level. 

Spending money on these identified social sectors is key for growth, he said, adding that rural infrastructure in particular, along with the physical infrastructure of the country, is the newer concern area. The government will go behind identifying such vulnerable areas and strengthen them, he stated. 

Jaitley, enthused with the passage of the Aadhar Bill in Parliament recently, said: "The landmark legislation will be followed by two others in the second part of this parliamentary session namely the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Bill, and the Goods and Services Tax Bill (GST). These will give a major push to our reform process despite slow global environment."

The next few months are going to be extremely important in bringing the necessary structural changes, he explained, and added that in order to achieve that the government has put more emphasis on legislative changes and resource allocation to strengthen the banking system.

25 years of Indian Reforms

Jaitley reminded that 2016 also marks the 25th anniversary year of India's reform era which began in 1991. "It is ironical that when the country initiated the reform process, the critics called it IMF-dictated. Today, the capital is the choice to collectively think about how to advance Asia further," he said. 

He stressed that today the constituency of reform supporters are far larger than earlier times.

Appreciating the focus the continent (Asia) has received over the last three days of the conference, he said it actually helped to highlight the political, health care, gender equality and other social issues of many economies of Asia.

"Asia and Africa regions have higher growth potential when uncertainty exists on what levels the developed countries will grow," he said. And added: "of course these regions command the interest they do because of the maximum number of poor people reside there."