Not closing door on policy choices, says Sitharaman

May 23, 2020

NEW DELHI: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said future policy actions to aid growth would depend on how the Covid-19 pandemic plays out in the months ahead, asserting that the government is not “closing the door” on policy choices.
“I am not closing the door at all. I want to keep getting the inputs from the industry, from various sections of our society, implement what I have announced well and complete that and depending on how things pan out, we have to respond accordingly. We are only two months’ old in this year (2020-21 fiscal year), we have ten months to go,” she said in an interaction with BJP functionary Nalin Kohli.
She also said every assumption in the 2020-21 Budget would need a fresh look as they are at a stage that they won’t hold good unless reviewed. The FM said the government had helped states with funds and all the dues except the GST compensation cess have been paid.
Sitharaman also made it clear that the measures announced by the government to provide funds to the MSME sector could be availed by anyone and banks have been categorically told that anyone who wants to get assistance to restart their businesses should be helped.
“What has now become an MSME package, it includes MSME and also aims at touching others. It includes any enterprise with a certain exposure to bank, or with certain invested capital or with a certain turnover, if they need additional term loan, additional working capital in order to buy their raw material to restart in order to be able to pay some fixed costs ….,” she said.
“We are not giving it to the MSMEs at the exclusion of others. Anyone who wants to get some assistance from the bank is very welcome to go and I have made this very clear to the banks also. From June 1, I expect liquidity to flow, credit to flow to be enhanced, term loans to be given additionally without any new collateral. So the sectors that you are referring to can also benefit form this, can also approach banks and this has been made very plain to the banks. And therefore we have not aimed at any one sector in particular nor have we excluded anybody from this,” she said.
Sitharaman also defended the package unveiled by the Centre which amounts to Rs 20.97 lakh crore or 10% of GDP and said it was in line with what other nations had done by including central bank’s liquidity actions in their measures.
“Every country has brought in a basket of measures, some fiscal , some monetary, some guarantee, some central bank liquidity… they have also gone into liquidity being infused, both through the central banks also their guarantee and other things. We are not different from them,” Sitharaman said rejecting criticism that the package was more modest than it appears.

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