Amid the economic slowdown in the country, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Friday said the government has taken several steps to boost the economy and results have started to show.
The finance minister’s press conference comes two days after India’s factory output contracted to 1.1 per cent in August as against a growth of 4.2 per cent reported a month ago. August’s Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is the lowest in the last 81 months and the first contraction since June 2017.
When asked about the contracting IIP rate and the growing inflation, Sitharaman said, “I have no comments on that. I am hearing things and I don’t want to comment.”
Chief Economic Advisor K V Subramanian said that the government has already cleared Rs 61,000 crore dues of Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs). He added that the focus is now on capital expenditure. “66 per cent of budgeted Capex of Rs 3.38 lakh crore has already been undertaken,” Subramanian said.
He also said that more than eight lakh repo-linked loans, amounting to Rs 70,000 crore, have been sanctioned till November 27.
“As much as Rs 4.47 lakh crore has been sanctioned to non-banking financial institutions and housing finance companies to support retail lending,” said Subramanian, adding that 17 proposals amounting to Rs 7,657 crore had been approved under the partial credit guarantee scheme.
“Evidence of measures to boost investment is actually seen in the record FDI inflows – US$ 35 billion in the first half of 2019-20 as against US$ 31 billion during the same period last year,” Subramanian said. “It’s a good sign of foreigners seeing India as a very important destination,” he added.
The capitalisation of public sector banks and giving last-mile funding to realty projects were also announced.
Speaking on the status of employment, the CEA compared the percentage of employment of 2017-18 with that of 2011-12, and said that the situation was far better. He also added that the proportion of workers in the agricultural sector went down by 5 per cent, with people moving towards the service sector.
Meanwhile, Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhusan Pandey said that Rs 33,000 crore income tax refunds have been issued till November as compared to Rs 36,000 crore in the whole of last year.
Adding that the government has already taken steps to boost consumption in the economy, the revenue secretary said Rs 1.57 lakh crore tax has been refunded this year as compared to Rs 1.23 lakh crore last year.
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