NEW DELHI: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday assured captains of the industry at a meet in Washington that the government is committed to contain India’s fiscal deficit, but in a bid to boost consumption, it will also front-load public expenditure on infrastructure.
“Overall, in order to boost consumption, the government has very clearly said that public expenditure for infrastructure will be clearly front-loaded,” Sitharaman said, adding that the government is committed to contain the fiscal deficit at the same time.
The finance minister, who is on a US tour, was addressing representatives of CII and US businessmen in Washington.“Though the budget was presented in July, in a year when there was interim budget presented before the election, we didn’t wait for the next budget to come in February of 2020. Almost on a 10-day interval, we have been announcing one intervention or the other with which each of the stressed areas can be addressed,” she said, in a response to a query.
When asked about the slowdown in the Indian economy, Sitharaman said that the government was taking steps to address problems in “stressed” sectors. She also pointed out that the government has taken many steps to give put money in the hands of the people by facilitating easy loans. Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee had recently said that India needs to concentrate on demand and put money into the hands of poor people.
“I’ve requested all the building sector banks together with their partners and non-banking financial companies to reach out to villages... reach out to districts and extend every kind of credit they would want,” Sitharaman said.
Responding to a question on why investors should allocate funds for India, she noted that even if the court system is a bit delayed, India is a transparent and open society. The rule of law works and there have been a lot of reforms, including those to cut down these delays, she said.
Responding to questions from major insurance companies who urged her to remove the cap on FDI in this sector, she said the government needs to understand what the sector’s expectations were. However, Sitharaman said she would be quite open to the idea, provided they sent her details.