Home / News / India /  We are working on the next stimulus package: Economic affairs secretary

Days after finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that she has not closed the option of another round of stimulus in the current fiscal, a senior finance ministry official on Wednesday said that the ministry is working on the next stimulus package.

“The finance minister in her interaction a day before has mentioned that (about increasing government expenditure). She has told us to work on that and we are actually working on that. Based on the various suggestions that we have received from all of you (industry leaders), we will be working on it and try to do something on this front as well so that the push to the economy which is very much needed in these stressful times is provided," economic affairs secretary in the finance ministry Tarun Bajaj said speaking at a webinar organized by industry lobby Confederation of Indian Industry.

Speaking at the virtual launch of 15th finance commission chairman NK Singh’s autobiography, Sitharaman on Monday said she has not closed the option for another stimulus package.

While the finance ministry has announced two stimulus packages worth 1.5% of GDP, the first being the Atmanirbhar Bharat Yojana in May and the latest one last week, critics have pointed the government’s cautious fiscal response to the coronavirus induced recession compared to India’s peers and other large countries.

In latest set of measures on 12 October, finance minister announced a stimulus package worth 46,675 crore including incentives for central government employees to spend more on consumer durables during the festive season and higher capital expenditure for both the centre and states. Rating agency Moody’s last week said the measures worth 0.2% of GDP will provide only limited support to growth and highlight the “very weak fiscal position" of the government.

Bajaj said while the government has begun the budget-making exercise for the next fiscal FY22, it is still looking at the extra requirement for expenditure for various sectors. “We have mentioned it to the departments to push such capital expenditure that has multiplier effect. If there is more money needed, we would be providing that in our revised estimates. The challenge obviously now is to ensure that the departments that are responsible for infra spend actually spend this money," Bajaj said.

Madan Sabnavis, chief economist at Care Ratings said any stimulus from the government hereon is more likely to be in the realm of specific policies relating to sectors rather than a measure which affects revenue or expenditure. “As we are seven months through the year and preparations are on for the next year’s budget, it is likely that any measure will be fiscally neutral," he added.

The finance ministry has kickstarted the budget-making process for FY22 on 16 October with pre-Budget meetings with ministries and departments. This will be the third Budget of finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and eighth of the Narendra Modi government.

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