States will get Rs.3.34 lakh crore as they mine coal: Piyush Goyal

NEW DELHI:Piyush Goyal, 51, Minister for State with independent charge for power, coal, and renewable energy ministry spoke about the completion of two years of the Modi government in power and the way forward. Excerpts:

Piyush Goyal

Critics are saying that the government has been lucky due to lower crude oil and commodity prices . What happens when crude breaches $100 mark again?

It’s unfortunate that there will be always be naysayers. But this government is not dependent on commodity prices. The work that we have done is foundational in nature.

After all building roads, increasing coal production, electricity generation, transmission lines…have nothing to do with commodity prices. In fact, a decline in commodity prices should actually be a negative for the production of coal.

From a situation of shortage we have become a coal surplus economy. So there is always these set of naysayers, they don’t have anything else to criticise so they will be looking at something or the other.

What has contributed to the growth and is it sustainable?

I am happy to share with you that it is this foundational work which gave us 7.9 per cent growth in last quarter of 2015-16. It is sustainable. What we have done will help this country for decades.

It is poised for high volume growth in the coming years. And please bear in mind we have done this on back of lower fiscal deficit, lower revenue deficit, and lower inflation, lower current account deficit, and lower interest rates. All these indicators are better. The economy is on path of high growth, it is the world’s fastest growing large economy with no corruption and we have high standards of transparency and honesty.

India, instead of following what the world tells us to do we are showing the way to the world.

Your critics say that high GDP growth is because a change in the base year?

It is a very foolish argument. The process of changing the base was not done by the BJP or NDA. It was started much earlier because it is the correct way to calculate GDP. There were so many things that were not factored earlier. Now it is being factored in. So, it has corrected both, the past and the present.

I think it’s a very naïve argument of an ignorant person, whoever has said that.

You talk about $250 billion worth of investments in power sector alone. Corporate balance sheets are stressed and banks are saddled with huge NPAs. How do you fund these projects?

Well two things. First of all, the NPAs problem is an inherited legacy because of political interference in the working of banks.

It occurred during the UPA government and due to its mismanagement in erstwhile years with poor quality supervision of the banking system as a whole. We are trying to set things right and are confident that all the state-owned banks will emerge stronger in the months and years to come.

I think money will never be a constraint when it comes to strengthening the Indian banking system or delivery of the various programmes of the government.

But where will the funds come from?

The leakages and corruption that was there earlier have been plugged. That is providing us sufficient funding ability to serve the poor of this country. Take the example of coal mines.

Earlier, it was given away free of charge to friends, family and relatives and MPs of the Congress party. Now, it’s being given through a transparent auction process so that the states will get Rs.3.34 lakh crore in the next 25 years as they mine the coal.

So, it leads to increased revenue for the state to serve the people.