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Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (Photo: ANI)
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (Photo: ANI)

Opinion | Spanner removal

A 20,000-crore package for housing, half funded by the Centre, is expected to rescue affordable housing projects that haven’t yet gone bust

The government’s latest measures to boost the economy, announced on Saturday by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, are likely to get some wheels of commerce turning again in sectors that have seen activity either grind down or stall. A 20,000-crore package for housing, half funded by the Centre, is expected to rescue affordable housing projects that haven’t yet gone bust. Exporters have been promised quick goods and services tax refunds, cheaper credit thanks to better coverage of risks on export loans, and greater port efficiency for outward shipments. As further relief, a tax refund scheme is to be rehauled next year, a rejig that will align it with world trade rules and might result in annual paybacks of 5,000-10,000 crore extra. Plus, shopping festivals designed to lure global tourists could increase India’s intake of dollars.

The addressal of hindrances in two major sectors should get cranes and containers moving and thus improve sentiment. The realty market, however, would require a broad economic upturn to recover properly, while exports need a competitive edge sharpened by wider reforms that make space for high-quality stuff at low cost.

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