Bank capital infusion to highways: Modi govt unveils Rs 9-trillion plan to boost economy | business news | Hindustan Times
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Bank capital infusion to highways: Modi govt unveils Rs 9-trillion plan to boost economy

The plan, unveiled by finance minister Arun Jaitley, includes spending Rs 2.11 trillion towards pumping capital into banks and another Rs 7 trillion on a roads and highways project.

business Updated: Oct 25, 2017 09:13 IST
Moushumi Dasgupta and Alekh Archana
Moushumi Dasgupta and Alekh Archana
HindustanTimes, New Delhi
Arun Jaitley‬,‪Minister of Finance of India‬,‪India‬
Finance minister Arun Jaitley during a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday.(Arvind Yadav / HT )

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government announced it would invest over Rs 9 trillion to recapitalise state-owned banks and build new roads and highways on Tuesday, its biggest move yet to shore up an economy growing at its slowest in three years.

Plans include spending Rs 2.11 trillion towards infusing capital into banks over the next two years and another Rs 7 trillion over the next five years on the roads project, some of which will run through economic corridors as well as remote border and coastal areas.

The Rs 2.11 trillion is far higher than the Rs20,000 crore the government had previously planned to invest, in 2017-18 and 2018-19, in recapitalising banks.

Blueprint to stimulate growth
Job creation, infrastructure, small businesses, financial sector key focus areas
Reviving investment
Rs 6.92 trillion investment package for construction of 83,677 km of roads
Rs 2.11 trillion recapitalisation package for PSU banks to fix the bad debt problem
Sector-wise focus
Direct benefits for MSME sector
Guaranteed payment to MSME suppliers to PSUs within 90 days
Revamping Udyami Mitra scheme, providing end-to-end solutions for credit delivery and credit-plus services
Big push to Mudra, Stand-up India in 50 high-employment MSME clusters
Generating jobs
14.2 crore man days of work to be generated through road construction
More labour absorption in the MSME sectorProjected real GDP growth
When results of the GDP of the first quarter came out then I had said that we will be ready for the response... Macroeconomic fundamentals are strong. Yet some areas need a boost. - Arun Jaitley, finance minister

Separately, the government also announced an increase in the price at which it procures wheat, pulses and oilseeds from farmers and waived the penalty on delayed filing of initial returns on the new Goods and Services Tax for August and September.

The Rs 9 trillion gambit could help improve credit flow to companies from banks weighed down by bad debt, and boost public investment.

The plan to build more than 83,000 km of roads and highways over the next five years will boost connectivity and create jobs.

Rajnish Kumar, the chairman of the country’s largest lender, the state-owned State Bank of India said the recapitalisation of banks would help channel more investments to sectors such as infrastructure. “The thrust to infrastructure will generate direct and indirect positive cascading effects for lot of related sectors and will create feel good factor for all stakeholders,” he added.

The spending push, anticipated by many after growth slowed to 5.7% in the June quarter, will also likely help the government blunt political criticism ahead of state polls over the next few months.

DK Srivastava, chief policy advisor at EY India said the measures announced will stimulate the economy. “The critical factor will be how much of the expenditure is front-loaded to be spent this year.”

Unveiling the plan at an unusually high-octane press conference complete with a power point presentation, finance minister Arun Jaitley said the economy was on a strong wicket and that temporary hiccups were not unusual when structural reforms were undertaken.

“When results of the GDP of the first quarter came out then I had said that we will be ready for the response,” said Jaitley, flanked by half a dozen senior officials of his ministry who gave presentations on the health of the economy.“We will report on the situation as they develop.”

But ramping up government spending, at a time when subdued tax collections and sluggish economic growth have strained federal revenues, could widen the fiscal deficit beyond the targeted 3.2% of GDP.

There were already signs that the government had little option but to spend its way out of trouble that was exacerbated, in part, by last year’s shock withdrawal of high-value banknotes as well as disruptions on account of the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax.

Rejecting any pessimism over the economy, Jaitley said the government had held several internal meetings on the situation and that discussions were also held with Prime Minister Modi.

“India has been fastest growing major economy for the last three years,” he said.

“(Our) Attempt is to maintain high growth rate.”

(With input from Alekh Archana in Mumbai for Livemint)