New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented her maiden Budget on 5 July amid an economic slowdown. To address specific concerns of sectors such as finance, automobile and real estate, which have been the worst hit, Sitharaman has held several consultative meetings with representatives across industry and trade since August.
Traders and industrialists met Sitharaman the most — seven times between 5 August and 17 October. They raised concerns amid a slowing economy and suggested ways to tackle issues that have been hurting them, the minister’s office said on the micro-blogging and social networking website Twitter.
“Sitharaman has been meeting representatives across industry and trade, post Budget, to listen to their concerns and take their suggestions," the office said in a tweet.
This came in response to a tweet by Biocon Ltd chief Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw who called out on the Centre to reach India’s corporate sector and find solutions to revive consumption and growth. “Hope the government reaches out to India Inc for working out solutions to revive consumption and growth. So far, we are all pariahs and government does not want to hear any criticism of our economy," Shaw tweeted on Sunday.
Representatives from financial markets, public and private sector banks and financial institutions have met the minister two-three times during August-October, the tweet said. The minister also met members of industry bodies — Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) — once each during the period.
The minister also met foreign portfolio investors on 9 August, following which the government withdrew surcharge on long and short-term capital gains arising out of transfer of equity shares as part of the stimulus package announced in the same month to revive growth and encourage investment in the capital market.
India’s GDP growth fell to more than a six-year low of 4.5% in the September quarter.
Overseas investors had started exiting Indian equity market after the government had, in the Budget announced in July, proposed levying 3% surcharge on individuals with annual income of more than ₹2 crore, and a 7% surcharge on those with income above ₹5 crore.
This had spooked the stock markets as many foreign investors in India are not registered as companies but pay their taxes under the Association of Persons (AOP) structure, where these investors are treated as individuals.
The minister also met representatives from the automobile, real estate and construction sectors, which have been reeling under tight liquidity and struggling due to poor confidence from lenders.