In a first, Finance Minister P Chidambaram took questions on the Union Budget he tabled in Parliament on February 28 from the general public on Google Hangout - a multi-person online video chat.
The finance minister was joined by select panelists including Jahangir Aziz, senior Asia economist and India chief economist, JPMorgan; Anand Mahindra, chairman and managing director of Mahindra & Mahindra; and Amit Singhal, senior vice-president, Google.
Here are the highlights:
- We are aiming at 9 per cent growth. In the last six years we grew at 8 per cent. No doubt that we have slipped but can climb again.
- If we don't import gold for one year, half of our current account deficit will disappear.
- Exporting more is the only way to meet current account deficit.
- Thanks to remittances, our deficit is in check.
- People, companies, PSUs sitting on piles of cash. Every quarter I will ask them where they are investing.
- Why should capital gains be taxed if everything else is. I don't think there is a case to say that capital gains should not be taxed. Every kind of income must be taxed except for things link old-age pension. I think it's a fair policy, but I'm open to suggestions on this.
- You play according to the pitch, according to the weather
- The world economy is constrained, so is India's economy, so there was only so much economic space
- Given the restricted economic space, we have done all that could be done
- Need to attract investors in India
- Fiscal consolidation is the objective
- We have put away a Rs 1,000 crore for women's security ... we'll work with other government departments and NGOs and find out how we can use this money.
- All-women's bank should get started by November.
- We must remember that Eurozone is in recession ... Germany and the UK have contracted in the last quarter.
- We are trying to stabilise our economy and get the growth engine started.
- We will raise Rs 40,000 crore via disinvestment in the coming fiscal year (2013-14).
- Will raise Rs 14,000 crore by way of selling residual stake of the government in non-government firms.
- Every single disinvestment has been a success since I took over.
- On global economic situation: No big bang anywhere in the world.
- We haven't gone wrong anywhere, global situation has affected us.
- Economies have shrunk globally, we're trying to stabilise ours.
- On fiscal deficit: We will not cross the red line. It will be kept at 4.8 per cent or below.