Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday said that India is indebted to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for liberalising the country’s economy, PTI reported.

Gadkari said that the economic reforms started by Singh as the finance minister of India in 1991, gave a new direction to the country. Addressing an event organised by the portal TaxIndiaOnline, Gadkari said that India needed a liberal economic policy with the intention of uplifting the poor.

Singh, as the finance minister in the Narasimha Rao government, is credited for abolishing the licence raj, liberalising India’s trade and capital markets and encouraging privatisation in sectors such as health, education, transport and infrastructure.

At Tuesday’s event, Gadkari also said that the policies introduced by Singh had helped him collect funds to build roads when he was a minister in Maharashtra.

Addressing the same event, Singh said that he entered politics at a time when India was confronted by challenges on the external front.

“Most of you will only recall the external payments crisis of 1990-91,” he said, according to PTI. “But this payments crisis occurred against the backdrop of an even bigger challenge—the breakdown of the global bipolar order.”

He added that the policies of those years had a far-reaching and enduring impact on the country.

“At that critical time, I had said that the emergence of India as an economic powerhouse was an idea whose time had come,” Singh said.