Jaitley defends PPF rate cut, attacks Congress

New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday defended the government's decision to slash interest rates on PPF and national small savings, saying this was part of a routine procedure. He said the move will help transform the economy from a "sluggish" state to an "efficient" one.  "Now the interest rates have come down and the direction in which the country's economy is moving these days, we cannot have a situation where banks lending rates go down and the deposits rate are high. Both are inter-linked," Jaitley told reporters here. He claimed the government move was aimed at making "the economy efficient rather than sluggish". "The country has to move towards a lower interest rates in both areas. Similarly the interest on government securities has also come down in the last few months." The minister, who has come under attack for slashing interest rates, said earlier changes in interest rate used to be announced annually. Henceforth, as the interest rates fluctuate, it will be announced every quarter. The UPA regime also had the same formula, he said. He said the interest rates on government securities were determined by the market.  Speaking on the sidelines of the BJP National Executive meeting, Jaitley also took potshot at the Congress, saying it had "lowered" its ambitions in states.  "It has lowered its ambitions. And it is contended playing a tail-ender in states like Bihar, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu," he said. The BJP leader exuded confidence that his party will score a "decisive victory" in the coming elections in Assam and improve its showing in other states including Kerala and West Bengal. "We have formed an alliance in Assam and we are the leader of the alliance," he said, adding that NDA alliance in Assam has tried to reach out to wide range of the people. "And I am sure we will score a decisive victory."