‘Covid will not affect the reform roadmap’: Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Minister of Finance

‘Covid will not affect the reform roadmap’: Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Minister of Finance

On self-reliance vs global integration I have spent quite some time looking at the recent tariff issues. The items on which the hikes have happened are very consistent with what we have laid before ourselves in the name of Atmanirbhar Bharat. If they are end-consumer products which we manufacture in this country, we would rather have our capacities strengthened. But we have not raised any tariffs on inputs of raw materials or intermediary goods. So we don’t intend at being regressive. Secondly, on the issue of (disputes with) Vodafone and Cairn, I’ve recently had a meeting with a representative of Cairn, and we are talking. The Prime Minister clearly said we don’t believe in retrospective taxation. However, the international arbitrations questioning India’s sovereign right to tax is a matter of concern, and to that limited extent, we are worried that it sets a wrong precedent. If you tell me that they could be contradictory, maybe to an extent they are. Indian manufacturing has been hurt on many grounds, particularly on matters which have bulk usage in this country, not those specified things which we don’t have the wherewithal to produce, like high-end technology, but even basic goods. We’ve been flooded by unjustified dumping. As a result, many of our small and medium manufacturing units are not able to survive and the Indian economy depends largely on our MSMEs.

My day starts with a meeting with the secretaries of my ministry and the secretaries of Corporate Affairs, which is also something I look after. The way we have planned for disinvestment, setting up the DFI (Development Finance Institution), looking at asset-reconstruction companies, everything is on course. In fact, the message from the secretaries is that we are going as smoothly as before. Therefore, we don’t suspect that will be affected. On staying the course on reforms

On foreign investment While the second wave is challenging us on several grounds — supply of critical medicines, supply of required quantities of oxygen — the government has been rapidly taking a lot of measures, inclusive of where necessary to import medical quality oxygen. As regards critical medicines, we have taken many steps to make sure that the issues related to supply are addressed. I’m very happy that the Prime Minister had mentioned it in so many words that there shall not be a countrywide lockdown comparable to the one which we had in 2020. The reason for that is in 2020, we did not have adequate PPE kits, and we ramped up the production of PPEs and ventilators, and testing labs have been set up all over the country. The situation today is very different. We have two vaccines already. So we don’t think there is a need for across-the-board lockdown.

Source indianexpress.com As a government, we have taken a call that MSMEs need some support, particularly if they are producing consumer items. When we say atmanirbhar, we’re not shutting the Indian economy, we are saying that we have to play on our strengths.

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