There are two approaches in the world to creating jobs. The first is to support the supply side by investing in large industries, giving them subsidies and offering tax returns, which has its inherent flaws. After extensive research, we have chosen the other model, which supports the claim. This model has been tried around the world with good results. Give people jobs so they have money available to spend, which leads to increased demand and ultimately generates new jobs.
We received approximately 6,500 suggestions from the public on the budget and most mentioned the need for government intervention to improve the economy, support markets and create jobs. Since we cannot create big industries, we decided to support the markets by organizing shopping parties. The per capita income of Delhiites is already good and if we manage to bring it back to the market, it will create new jobs. We held several meetings with the market associations and arrived at a figure on the number of jobs that could be created with each intervention.
But most of the jobs you promised seem to be in the unorganized sector.
An imaginary line is drawn between unskilled jobs and white collar jobs. There is a preconceived idea among people that they must have a college degree for a respectable job. In developed countries, young people get vocational training after finishing school and get good jobs. We are talking about young people living in slums and unauthorized settlements who want to earn a living through dignified jobs.
The number of gig workers is increasing. How does the government propose to support them?
Gig workers are now covered by the legal framework. The law of the land recognizes them as part of our economy. We started thinking about what we can do for their well-being. When we talk about creating 20 lakh jobs and sustaining them with government support, gig workers are one of them.
When it comes to the city’s financial health, we’ve seen revenue collection plummet and the budget deficit widen. What is the government doing to verify this?
The increase in the budget deficit is not a huge problem. Our GST collection has increased over the past few months. The contribution from excise duties has also increased and provided a much needed cushion. We are currently working on rationalizing circle prices. In addition, we study car registration fees and road tax structures in other states. We are trying to reduce our expenses so as not to weigh down the public treasury. But we are certainly concerned about the GST offset. We need GST compensation of Rs 10,000-12,000 crore per year. We receive part of it (from the Center). But we don’t know how to close the gap.
Do electricity, water and transport subsidies affect the public treasury?
No, think of grants as an investment in people to increase their spending.
Delhi’s new excise policy has been criticized by the opposition. How do you see it?
Delhi is an international city and progressive and economically sound people live here. Alcohol consumption is high. We have successfully addressed the smuggling problem with our new excise policy. Additionally, we have controlled the sale of fake liquor by evenly distributing stores throughout the city. Our revenue increased by Rs 3,500 crore in the first year.
Since retailers participated in the open auction, we gave them the opportunity to offer small discounts to attract customers. But some have started giving away free bottles. The job of government is to regulate consumption and commerce. We stopped him. Learning from our experiences, we will soon be proposing an improved excise policy, which will solve the start-up problems.
New types of jobs today require different skills. How do you propose to train young people?
To meet the demands for new jobs, the private sector is organizing courses and the government will also do whatever is necessary. We created the Skills University for precisely the same purpose, which is to design the courses needed in the future.
You talked about GST refunds and the VAT amnesty in your budget speech. Are you trying to appeal to the core BJP voters, i.e. the business class?
We held over 150 meetings with traders, market associations and target groups and they said that to make shopping festivals a success, offering discounts to customers would be a good idea. The GST refund will be an incentive from the government to traders. In terms of VAT amnesty, our agents waste a lot of time on old cases and disputes. This (amnesty regime) will be a one-time exercise.
Why is the government proposing a new solar policy? Does the old one not work?
We want to maximize the total capacity of electricity generation from renewable sources. Our goal is to meet 10% of the city’s total demand with renewable energy. It is a new sector. The market is changing and the government is making policy changes based on its learnings.
There is a reduction in the allocation for the education sector in this budget. Why?
There is a slight decrease in the budget allocation for the education sector. We have increased the allocation for the water sector from around Rs 3,200 crore to Rs 7,600 crore to lay new pipelines, beautify Najafgarh drain, etc. Our motive is not to make capital expenditures in education for romance. Our goal was to improve the infrastructure of education. Now that that’s done, the focus is on the water. But reform-oriented projects, which require less capital investment, will continue.
What is the idea behind the opening of Mohalla Clinics in train stations and at the airport?
We want to open Mohalla clinics wherever attendance is high. Generally, people avoid going to primary health clinics citing time constraints. We want to provide them with medical facilities wherever they have to spend time waiting, such as bus stations, metro stations and the airport.