FM Nirmala Sitharaman

According to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s economy is performing reasonably well. She stated that the macroeconomic fundamentals were looking good which was evident from the influx of capital investment flowing into the country. She hinted that India was doing well before the second wave of the deadly COVID-19 struck. “Just before the second wave of the pandemic hit, the high frequency indicators were robust, be it domestic factory orders, goods, services, electricity consumption, foreign direct investment flows, foreign exchange reserves etc,” she said.

In a recent interview, she mentioned that although the Union Budget 2021-22 was drawn up two months before the second wave hit the economy, the Budget was ‘tailor-made’ for the pandemic. As such, her focus would lie on the execution and implementation of the proposals contained in the Budget itself, rather than relief measures.

The Finance Minister had appealed on many occasions to let the Budget schemes kick in before asking for stimulus packages, pointing out that the Budget was designed for a COVID-effected economy. She has been vocal about letting the Budget do its work before any assumptions were made on whether the Indian economy needed any sort of relief or stimulus packages to pull it out of its current slump.

She did not, however, rule out the possibility of additional measures for stressed sectors, saying, “My interaction with industry and with states are happening now. Why would I want to say anything more on further relief measures without getting full knowledge of the impact?”

Furthermore, assessing the impact and the extent of damage to the economy caused by the second coronavirus wave, it will take some time for recovery. The Finance Minister said that given the timing and the lingering uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, she would need more time before she announced any relief measure.

Reiterating the Government’s commitment to strategic disinvestment, Nirmala Sitharaman said that the disinvestment target of Rs 1.75 million for the current fiscal is a top priority despite the on-going pandemic. “I will do everything that I’ve said in the Budget this year, which includes everything that was approved by the cabinet already and announced in Budget 2021-22, including Air India. Privatization is on course,” she concluded.

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