“Reforms are a continuing process; it not that you can stop and go,” Mukherjee said, with chief economic advisor Kaushik Basu beside him. “One set of reforms demand another set of reforms.” He then cited several landmarks passed on the reforms route several more upcoming bills in Parliament to counter the view that reforms would be on hold till after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Such a view – about reforms stalling ahead of elections -- was attributed to economic guru Basu based on remarks he made at a Washington DC think-tank midweek, but he subsequently said he was reported out of context.
On Sunday, both appeared to be on the same page as they flew out of Washington DC after four days of engagements during which, at least in the domestic context, India was on the backfoot for dawdling on reforms, including spooking foreign corporations by proposing a retroactive tax legislation. But Mukherjee clarified that the so-called retroactive tax proposals which has raised hackles among foreign corporations had been over-interpreted and apprehensions that a large number of tax cases relating to foreign investment in India will be reopened is “totally unfounded.” The legislation under consideration is a “clarificatory amendment” rather than a substantive amendment, he maintained, suggesting that current incometax laws under which cases beyond six years cannot be reopened will continue to prevail. Moreover, assessment process which has been completed as of April 1, 2012 will not be reopened, he added.
Mukherjee also contested the suggestion from some quarters that the ruling party was reluctant to push forward briskly with reforms because there was no appetite for it in the electorate. The Congress party, he said, had gone up in strength from 140 seats to more than 200 on the platform of reforms, and as the pioneer of reforms, there was no reasons it should continue on the same lines.
Legislation pertaining to insurance, pension, and banking were under consideration by parliamentary committees and he would try and get it piloted through the current parliamentary session, Mukherjee said, while not detailing any major new proposals.