London, February 28: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday opened the London Stock Exchange in a special ceremony and said India has potential to grow faster and plans are underway to reduce poverty and create jobs in rural areas.
Finance Minister Jaitley also met top government officials and business leaders in London, told reporters in London that India still has the potential to grow at a higher rate than today. A series of action is needed to reduce poverty in the rural areas. The Minister said he does not see India becoming a cashless system immediately but he anticipates India becoming less-cash economy. Jaitley also hoped that the Goods and Services Tax would be implemented by 1st of July this year.
The Finance Minister further said that the Indian government takes the issue of defaulters very seriously. In response to a question, Jaitley said he may raise the issue of defaulters based in Britain with the UK government, in an apparent reference to liquor baron Vijay Mallya. Because of the strong steps were taken by the government, the Finance Minister said, some defaulters are on the run. Being on the run, they find refuge in certain other jurisdictions, exploiting the systems in other parts of the world.
Meanwhile, Queen Elizabeth II hosted a reception at the Buckingham Palace to launch the UK-India Year of Culture 2017 with Jaitley representing the Indian government at the historic event. The 90-year-old Queen was joined by her husband, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, and grandson Prince William and his wife Kate. It showcased the cultural diversity of India in the form of dance.
Notably, the ceremony was also attended by UK Minister for International Trade, Liam Fox. Following the market open ceremony, Nikhil Rathi, CEO, London Stock Exchange plc, hosted a roundtable event with Jaitley, delegates from the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry and others. Fox described the India-UK relationship as a hugely important partnership. Interestingly, India is now the third largest investor and second largest job creator in the United Kingdom.
Jaitley is also scheduled to meet UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson before heading to the Palace. He will be meeting his British counterpart Chancellor Philip Hammond tomorrow. Jaitley is also scheduled to meet a series of investors and CEOs on Tuesday at events organized by JP Morgan and Confederation of British Industry (CBI) before he leaves for India.