Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar paid his tributes to former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday. The BJP veteran and former Union Minister passed away at the age of 66 at AIIMS, Delhi on August 24. Speaking to Republic TV, the Niti Aayog chief spoke about the foundations laid by Arun Jaitley as the Finance Minister of India. Rajiv Kumar said that it was during Arun Jaitley's time as the Finance Minister when reforms like GST were introduced to the Indian economy. He said that Jaitley will be remembered as somebody who was open-handed in allocating the sums for inclusion.
"The party will miss him. The government will miss him. The country will miss him. He was truly at the prime of his life having completed five years as the Finance Minister where he laid the foundations of a new India. It was during his time, the Indian economy got over its legacy which he had inherited to which he was gracious enough not to point fingers to. The Indian economy gotten off to a new start, got a new trajectory with greater formalisation, greater transparency, greater accountability. And the laws and the reforms that he was able to achieve like the GST, IBC, the RERA (Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act), the monetary policy committee, the autonomy to the RBI, having the courage to do so. All of those have laid the foundations for a new Indian economy- which we are now going to take forward and enjoy the fruits of hard labour. Apart from all these reforms, he will be remembered as somebody who was open-handed in allocating the sums for inclusion - for all the schemes that PM Modi had started. It was during his tenure that India had seen the emergence of a completely new economic paradigm and he would be seen later time as the person who laid the foundations in this time," Niti Aayog chief Rajiv Kumar said.
He called it an honour to have worked with the former Finance Minister, adding that he had always been impressed with Jaitley's intellect. He regarded him as a great storyteller and a friend of friends.
"He will be missed. I have known him for more than 15 years now and a great honour to have worked with him, to have interacted with him. I had been very impressed with his intellect, with his wide sweep of not just economy, but pretty much every aspect of our economy that we live. He was a great storyteller. He was a friend of friends. The most important for me were the two qualities about his graciousness - the way he met with people. The other one is his compassion with which he would help anybody who would approach him," Rajiv Kumar added.
As India's Finance Minister in the first Modi cabinet (2014-2019), Arun Jaitley reshaped the Indian economy with innovative reforms and legislature. He heralded India's rapid rise to be crowned as the world's fastest-growing major economy. Under his stewardship, the PM Modi government took a big, bold reform - Demonetisation, on 8 November 2016. Old banknotes of Rs.500 and Rs.1000 were instantly made invalid and issuance of new ₹500 and ₹2,000 banknotes were announced by the Prime Minister. Arun Jaitley was the man instrumental in the historic passage of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, which was a tax reform languishing for 17 years, subsuming over a dozen different taxes and cesses necessitated the passing of a Constitutional Amendment. With Arun Jaitley at the helm, the Indian Budget was consolidated and streamlined by merging the railway budget with the general Budget in 2017.