New Delhi: As the government’s mega disinvestment plans have slowed down amid the pandemic, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said that there is a need to move faster in regards to the disinvestment decisions approved by the Cabinet.
The statement comes at a time when deadlines for submitting EoIs for several major PSUs up for sale have been postponed due to the pandemic.
Sitharaman highlighted that there was a need to move fast on cabinet cleared disinvestment decisions, according to a CII statement.
She also stressed that structural reforms are a key priority of the government as has been reflected in the slew of measures and policies announced since the outbreak of Covid-19.
Noting that every policy which was introduced had a structural component, the minister said that the reforms are having a significant impact on the recovery process which we are currently witnessing.
Further, she said that in order to facilitate the recovery process, the Home Ministry has given out directions to the state governments to impose no curbs on the movement of people and inter-state movement of goods and services.
“There cannot be a better time for exemplar cooperation between government, regulators and industry to ensure that Indian comes out from the present crisis”, she said.
Taking cognisance of the fact that many sectors such as tourism, hospitality, real estate, construction and airlines have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, Sitharman said that these are critical sectors with significant multiplier impact on the economy.
In order to ease the pain of a few of these ailing sectors, the Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) for the hotels, banquets and related activities will be looked into, she said.
She was of the view that in a post-COVID world, steps such as the corporate tax cut should fructify.
“With post-COVID reset happening, emphasis has to be on adoption of data-driven manufacturing models through ploughing greater investments in these models”, she further added.
On the issue of local manufacturing, Sitharaman said that Productivity Linked Incentives (PLIs) scheme has met with excellent response and has helped speed up manufacturing of critical bulk drugs and APIs in six states.
On delayed payments by the government agencies, she said that the Finance Ministry is taking periodic reviews to expedite payments due to the industry.
Responding to a question about the need for lowering GST rates on 2-wheelers, she assured that this was indeed a good suggestion as this category is neither a luxury nor a sin good and hence merits a rate revision. Consequently, this will be taken up with the GST Council, she added.
Uday Kotak, President, CII, in his opening remarks, highlighted that we are witnessing ample signs of a nascent recovery from the lows seen in April-May as a result of the supportive steps taken by both the Central Government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
However, the localised lockdowns implemented in many states have given rise to supply-side bottlenecks, which could impede growth when demand side cranks up, he added.