Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday assured businesses the government will not curb imports as it pursues self-reliance.
“Aatmanirbhar Bharat doesn’t mean we are curbing imports. We have to identify the advantages that we had and find new ones. Aatmanirbhar Bharat of PM means getting our strengths back and building new strengths," the finance minister was quoted as saying at a meeting with representatives of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci).
“We have to build our strengths to become self-reliant, but that does not mean we are becoming protectionist. We have to become part of the global supply chain with our strengths," Ficci said in a post on Twitter, citing Sitharaman.
The minister’s assurance is aimed at removing fears among global investors that India’s quest for self-reliance could see the nation veer away from the path of globalization and free markets.
During the meeting, Sitharaman discussed how industry will handle the issue of labour shortage and urged businesses to help in data collection about them, a senior industry representative who was present at the meeting said on condition of anonymity.
She also assured industry representatives that any outstanding dues of small and mid-sized business with the government would be cleared quickly, except for those that might be the subject of court disputes.
Industry representatives, in turn, urged the minister to further increase the ceiling of ₹100 crore revenue to ₹300 crore for being considered as a micro, small and medium enterprises, which gives companies benefits such as eligibility to bid for government tenders and low interest rates.
Sitharaman assured business executives that the government was ready to examine any burning issues they might have, as well as any feedback on the recent stimulus measures.
With the next budget several months away, the minister assured that the government had ample room to address any concerns, the industry representative said.
Some of the businessmen present at the meeting raised concerns about liquidity and requested wage support. Industry officials said that measures such as collateral-free loans through banks are not leading to swift availability of funds. Sitharaman said the Reserve Bank of India’s recent measures would lead to lower cost of funds, an industry representative said.