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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Need big, nimble banks that are not scared of CVC: FM Sitharaman

Talking about the decisions being taken on disinvestment of public sector undertakings (PSUs), Sitharaman said the government was unable to run these units by pouring taxpayers money to keep them alive.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi |
Updated: February 26, 2021 5:07:59 am
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at a meet, in Ahmedabad on Thursday. (PTI)

THE INTERNATIONAL Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted that India’s economy will grow over 11.5 per cent in the coming year, which is double the growth rate of other world economies, said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while addressing an “Intellectuals Meet” at Ahmedabad Management Association on Thursday.

“Yesterday, I was having a video conference with IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva. She called me. IMF has said that India will grow at over 11.5 per cent in the coming year. That is IMF’s estimate,” she told a gathering of chartered accountants, sales tax professionals, lawyers and representatives from trade and industry bodies.

During her speech, she said India needs big banks that can meet the demands of a young population. “We need big banks. We need banks that are nimble and can move fast to take a decision; that are not scared of CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) constantly; that are not hesitating to take risks. We are bringing this culture into the public sector banks.”

Sitharaman added the government trusts business houses. “I remember coming to Gujarat after the 2019 Budget and talking to a lot of people about how tax harassment was happening. At that time, the word that was used was tax terrorism … that time the fear was also that the economy was slowing down. I went all around the country. Prime Minister told me just go see what is happening. Hear them, and, if anything has to be done, please talk to the tax authorities and make sure that the field formations are not going to be doing things that will suffocate businesses.”

She lauded the way technology was being utilised to track direct and indirect taxes. The Minister credited technology for the rising GST collections after the lockdown. “In the last three months, GST numbers are improving. There are two reasons for it. One, the economy is picking up. Pent-up demand of Dussehra and Diwali is over. Sustained demand is happening, as a result payments are also happening. Secondly, with technology providing all data in hands of tax officials, an impact is being created in the minds of those people who would have probably played up the system. So, compliance is improving without troubling anyone.”

Talking about the decisions being taken on disinvestment of public sector undertakings (PSUs), Sitharaman said the government was unable to run these units by pouring taxpayers money to keep them alive. “How long can you go on doing this? Yes, there is a sentiment. After all, this was created for public good, but public good can also be taken care of by the public themselves. Who would not mind investing? Who would not mind running it efficiently?” she said.

“The government’s intention is not to shut them down. The government’s intention is to make them run with more capital and efficiency. If it is through the private sector, why not,” she said, adding worker interests will be protected.

The Minister said she recently met 45 business leaders from South India in Chennai and Bengaluru. “Of the 45, 37-38 told me that their individual industry is running full capacity and, now, they are wanting to expand because demand exists and it will exist for the next couple of years,” she said. “They (industrialists) said, there could not have been better days. It is not going back to pre-Covid. It is better than that. There is immense optimism. There is hope,” she added.

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