HTLS 2021: Sitharaman on state of Indian economy and its future
Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that though all the indicators about the Indian economy show it is in a better shape, Omicron has brought in a moment of caution. Speaking at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit (HTLS), she hoped that this year’s GDP numbers will be encouraging and India will still be the fastest growing economy in the world.
“At the moment, all the scientific evidences available give us a feeling that whilst this one spread too fast, it may not be all that worrisome. But you can’t rely on any such word at this stage. So, there is a sense of wanting to be sure and that is why the Prime Minister has been repeating that masks will have to be worn and Covid protocols to be followed,” Sitharaman told Hindustan Times Editor-in-chief R Sukumar.
She also lauded the people of India for continuously adjusting and moving along with changing reality in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sitharaman further said that the government has been helping small industries (MSMEs) since the beginning of the pandemic. She said that the Centre’s emergency liquidity guarantee credit scheme and e-Shram portal have played a major part in it.
“The informal sector is now more than likely becoming formal sector,” she added.
Sitharaman said that India has, to a large extent, put the effects of the pandemic behind it and is on a steady growth path. “Out of 40 high-frequency indicators, 22 are regularly referred to. Out of those, we have achieved pre-pandemic level or even crossed it in 19 of them. And there is a consistency to this performance,” said the finance minister.
“In the last one or two months, people have looked at what is happening in India and many of them have retained what they had said in March, even now, for this year,” Sitharaman said.
The tenacity and the perseverance shown by the Indian people is resulting in this growth number, the finance minister added.
India's GDP grew by 8.4 per cent in the second quarter (July-September) of 2021-22 fiscal year, compared to a 7.4 per cent contraction a year ago, showed official data released on Tuesday by the Centre.
When asked about what is the government’s top agenda to ensure India registers a healthy long-term economic growth, Sitharaman said compliance and the burden of compliance and ease of doing business are the two focus areas.
“There should also be a consistence in taxation. And the benefits should reach even to the panchayat level,” said the finance minister.
Talking about disinvestment, Sitharaman said the government is trying to speed up the process.
When asked about the Budget expectations, the finance minister said that to some extent, the emphasis on infrastructure spending will continue.