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I do not want a single rupee for my fiscal: Jaitley

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New Delhi: Speaking about the Reserve Bank of India surplus, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that he do not want a single rupee form the RBI’s surplus for his fiscal or for this year’s expenses or for till the month of May.

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Jaitley said that he does not want a “single rupee” from the RBI’s surplus to fulfil his fiscal deficit goals or for any other expenses. At the same time, Jaitley reiterated that a debate must be held on the issue of exactly how much money the RBI could hold in its reserves.
Arun Jaitley’s comments came on Day 2 of Agenda Aaj Tak where the finance minister spoke broadly on the Indian economy.

The discussion, moderated by India Today TV’s Rajdeep Sardesai, naturally moved towards the friction between the government and the Reserve Bank of India. Urjit Patel recently quit as the RBI governor, a move experts blamed on the long-standing tensions between the central bank and the government.

At Agenda Aaj Tak, Jaitley denied that the government had pressurised Patel to quit. Jaitley however did speak about the issue of the RBI’s reserves, which was among the biggest flashpoints between the government and the central bank. (The government wanted the RBI to hand over some of its surplus money.)

Sardesai asked Jaitley whether the finance minister had any comment on business columnists writing that the government was eyeing the RBI’s reserves so that it could use that money to make a big announcement in an election year (Lok Sabha elections will be held in the first half of next year).

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Jaitley rubbished the charge. “I do not want a single rupee [from the RBI’s surplus] for my fiscal [deficit goals], or for this year’s expenses or for till the month of May…,” Jaitley said.

“And so, I will not comment on the columnists,” Jaitley added, before reiterating that a debate on the Economic Capital Framework is much needed. The framework would define how much money the RBI can have in its reserves and at what point it must hand over money to the government.

Jaitley said that several experts, including former Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian, have said there must be a debate on the subject.

“So let there be some experts to discuss it…How is that the idea that experts will discuss this is so unacceptable?” Jaitley asked.

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