FM wants India Inc to invest, promises to remove hurdles

NEW DELHI: Arguing that the economy is back on track and state-run banks have “remarkably turned around”, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman made an impassioned plea to India Inc to step up investment, while promising to remove whatever obstacles were being faced by the corporate sector. “At a time when India is looking at healthy growth, at a time when India is looking at industry coming forward to give that additional impetus for growth, at a time when India is strongly committed for furthering and continuing investment for infrastructure development, at a time when we will be spending more on health infrastructure, I want Indian industry, India Inc, to be a lot more risk-taking. I want Indian industry to show that we are going to stand up for India and build India… Say, ‘We are now coming forward, your policy is now hindering me, don’t talk, walk the mile’. You tell me that, I will do that for you,” she said at an event organised by CII. Sitharaman has spent the last few days with states, lenders and industry as the government seeks to spur investment to ensure that the growth momentum continues. Referring to public sector performance, the FM said, “The banking sector has remarkably turned around. They are no more the laggards of the Indian economy. Their NPAs have been drastically brought down, recoveries are on a high… More than Rs 10,000 crore have been raised from the market and just in the last three weeks ending Diwali, banks went on a credit outreach programme, more than Rs 75,000 crore have been distributed to four-five different categories… Liquidity was taken to those who needed for building their business, for buying their scooters or building their homes or for putting it in agriculture.” The comments come just a day before PM Narendra Modi’s meeting with the lenders. While crediting industry for playing a role in the turnaround, Sitharaman said that Modi had asked government departments to identify how life can be made easier for businesses. At the same time, she also argued for Indian investment on the grounds that the country needed to be Atmanirbhar, or self-reliant, a call given by Modi. “Unless each one of us makes an effort to make sure that this country stands on its own and be also able to supply to the world, our revival will always be facing a risk,” she said, while pointing to challenges in accessing fuel, chips, containers and shipping lines. Sitharaman suggested that Indian companies should look to enter new areas and seek new partnerships. “In the backdrop of COP26, which are the technologies that can make us stand on our own in energy matters? Our energy security cannot be achieved by sheer talking about solar, non-fossil-based fuel such as hydro, or nuclear energy. There have to be technologies which bring in efficiency in these areas. Wind, off-shore wind, nuclear, all of them need better technologies and you will have to be the partners for it,” she said.

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