Stating that the country's economy was passing through difficult times, he said, "the challenges are very obvious. We have to restore back the pace of growth, contain inflation, and obviously concentrate on fiscal consolidation itself." Veteran lawyer and senior BJP leader Jaitley was talking to reporters soon after taking charge of the Finance Ministry.
He also said that he would be looking after the Defence portfolio as additional charge only. "For a transient phase, I will be looking after Ministry of Defence also, but that's only an additional charge till there's an expansion in cabinet itself," he added.
Referring to his priorities as Finance Minister, Jaitley said, "I am conscious of the fact that I am taking over at a very challenging time particularly when there is a need to rebuild the confidence of the Indian economy. "The mandate with which our government has received has an inbuilt hope in it...the political change itself sends a strong signal to the global community as also the domestic investors. I think over the next two months by expediting decision making processes we will be able to build on that."
The Minister further said the entire policy of the new government would be spelled out in the next few days. "You will have to wait for a few days before we spell out the entire policy of the new government," he said. On whether he would focus on inflation at cost of growth, Jaitley said a "the balancing act" will have to done. India had registered over 9 per cent growth for a few years before the global financial meltdown of 2008 pulled it down. The economic growth rate slipped to decade's low of 4.5 per cent in 2012-13. It inched up to 4.9 per cent in 2013-14. In the current fiscal the growth rate is expected to rise further to 5.5 per cent.