New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said the government will soon announce a set of projects as part of the government’s plan to invest ₹100 trillion in infrastructure over the next five years. The minister said officers have almost completed the task of identifying big projects.
“A set of officers are looking into the pipeline of projects that can be readied so that once the fund is ready, it could be front-loaded on these projects. That task is nearly completed. Before 15 December, we will be able to announce front-loading of at least ten projects," Sitharaman said at the Economic Times Awards 2019 event in Mumbai.
Sitharaman said that she has travelled around the country meeting officers and discussing taxation related issues to ensure that officers’ actions in no way amount to any perception of harassment. The central government is also talking to states regarding simplifying and rationalizing the Goods and Services Tax. Sitharaman’s address to business leaders on Saturday comes as a big outreach effort by the Narendra Modi administration to support businesses and reverse the ongoing economic slowdown. “We are willing to hear, react and intervene when necessary," said the minister.
Sitharaman also said the government’s outreach to facilitate adequate liquidity to non-bank lenders and to consumers was a huge success resulting in loan disbursal of over ₹2.5 trillion during the weeks of Navratras and Diwali. This, the minister, said, has benefitted non-bank lenders as well as home and vehicle buyers. “It was not metropolitan districts that we focused, it is the hinterland where the liquidity went," the minister said.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has been giving a monetary stimulus to help growth by lowering the benchmark interest rate, while the central government took a series of steps in recent months to counter the liquidity crisis in the non-bank sector and to boost consumption. The steps included a sharp cut in the corporate tax rate, liberalising of foreign ownership norms, capital infusion into state-run banks, loan outreach programmes and front-loading of public spending. What complicates the growth slowdown is that it comes in the middle of a trade war between the US and China and worries of a global recession.