The government has finalised the first list of infrastructure projects as part of the recent proposal to invest Rs 100 lakh crore over the next five years and it will be announced by December 15, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Saturday, adding that as many as 12 global companies have shown interest in investing in India following the recent cut in corporate tax by the government.
“… a set of officers were looking into pipeline that can be readied so that once the fund is ready and it could be front-loaded. That task is near completion. Before December 15, I think we will be able to announce the front-loading of at least ten major projects. So the work is rapidly moving on it,” Sitharaman said at the Economic Times Awards 2019 event.
The Finance Ministry, in September, had set up a task force headed by the Economic Affairs Secretary to prepare a roadmap for the “national infrastructure pipeline” from 2019-20 to 2024-25 under a Rs 100 lakh crore infrastructure plan.
Sitharaman said that when the Centre announced the corporate tax rate cut, it had said it will form a task group to look into those companies which want to get out of China. “So, this task force has already started contacting many of these companies. The last count, I came to know, was about 12 of them have already been spoken to, their minds understood, their expectation listed out so that the government can come up with a concrete offer for them to shift from where they are now, so that the ecosystems can get built here, new industries can come.” the FM added.
She said the word that was given for bringing newer industries, which are moving out of China, is actively moving forward. “And I am sure, I will be able to report some progress on that,” the minister added.
Talking about the GDP growth rates, she expressed hope that the next set of numbers would be better. During the loan outreach programme in October, public sector banks have disbursed more than Rs 2.5 lakh crore, the FM said.
“They (banks) reached out to 400 districts, literally the hinterland where the money went. And, as a result, now I can see somewhat that kind of spend has helped in reviving the consumer spirits and purchases have gone up and I also hope that it will lead to improvement in tax collections,” she said.
Sitharaman, however, said the progress on partial guarantee scheme is not very satisfactory. She said they focused on identifying the blocking points for liquidity and with help of the Reserve Bank of India, the government was able to prove that there was no liquidity deficit.
On the tax front, the FM said she met tax administrators across India and held discussions with them to ensure that even if it is impossible to meet their targets, they should not do anything which can be construed as harassment. She further said that faceless assessment has been introduced in direct tax to ensure transparency in taxation and indirect tax too will have this system soon. She said systems for GST are being worked on so that it becomes as simple as the claim. “We would further like to simplify it,” she said.
With regard to the rationalisation of tax rates, Sitharaman said, “We are having a good conversation with all the states and want to make sure that those essential items may be put to the lowest, if not exempt, but for the rest of them, we are trying to rationalise”.
Earlier in the day, Sitharaman had tweeted saying that the government has taken structural reforms and will continue with its interventions and responses.
“Today, we mark the completion of six months of the second term of @PMOIndia @narendramodi. Several significant steps in structural reforms have been taken in these months. Responses/interventions addressing the needs of the economy will continue,” her Twitter handle read.
The GDP growth for the second quarter fell to over six-year low of 4.5 per cent, primarily due to contraction in manufacturing, weak investment and consumption demand, data released on Friday showed.