KOCHI: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday refused to acknowledge any economic slowdown and job loss in India and was noncommittal on reforms the government might undertake, including reduction of GST rates.
Asked repeatedly if the government thought there was an economic slowdown in the country, Sitharaman, during an interaction with reporters, refused to give a direct answer, stating instead that the government was listening to grievances of every sector. “We hear them out for solutions that they want and we respond.” On the job losses mentioned in the National Sample Survey Office’s report on employment, she said the BJP-led government, since 2014, had created jobs in the nation’s informal sectors.
“Indian informal sector employment has not been appropriately or exhaustively documented. When we refer to data from government organisations such as NSSO, they talk only about the formal sector and not about the informal. In India, nature of our economy being what it is, the informal sector is where majority of our employment is based. If there is stress in respective sectors, I am willing to hear,” she said.
Asked about former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s comment that India was in the midst of a slowdown because of demonetisation and GST, Sitharaman said, “He said it and I heard it.”
On how long it would take for visible changes in the economy, she said measures taken following the Budget were showing results in the form of banks and non-bank financial companies having better liquidity.