Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during her virtual conference with senior members of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on Wednesday asked them to ramp up operations and pump in more money to offset the impact of the coronavirus-induced slowdown. The virtual meeting, which was held to mark 125 years of the CII's existence, was reportedly designed to assess the industry mood over the stimulus package announced by the government.
CII members flagged issues such as low demand and need for policy reforms in sectors such as aviation, automotive and tourism, which have been badly hit due to the coronavirus pandemic. Discussions need to be undertaken to protect jobs, increase demand, and ensure the survival of large businesses, the industry requested.
The Finance Minister noted there had been a fair and open interaction on Goods and Services Tax, which had come to the bottom quarter in inflows. She also agreed that the infusion of liquidity worth Rs 90,000 crore in the power sector should be fast-tracked.
On a question related to infrastructure, the Finance Minister said the national infrastructure pipeline would be given a big push to create demand with a multiplier effect. "Large projects will be frontloaded and this will bring in positive energy and sentiments," she said.
On agriculture, the DM said the comprehensive reforms had been announced. Three model Acts have been shared with state governments, and many states have commenced on land reforms, she said.
The FM said even before COVID-19, clear handholding was announced for MSMEs and NBFCs to help enterprises in rural areas. She said credit availability for additional term loan and the working capital loan was intended to reach all MSMEs. "When the government provides full and partial guarantees with a special purpose vehicle post-lockdown, the bank hesitation has been addressed," she said.
In the wake of labour crisis amid the migrant movement to their native places, the FM said the industry needs to reset its relations with workers and plan for labour, including unskilled labour. She requested the industry to professionally engage unskilled workers and work towards skilling of employees at all levels.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 12 announced the Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus, which he said was aimed at making India a "self-reliant nation". However, critics have said it focussed on long-term measures rather than addressing pressing issues arising out the coronavirus lockdown.
Edited by Manoj Sharma