Do your part for fellow citizens: finance minister for super rich
Speaking continuously for more than two hours on a stretch in front of an audience composed of decades-old veterans for you in experience can be a grueling and intimidating adventure. And one can be taken to the limits of its resistance if it had to, besides that, deal with a deluge of questions from the media about financial matters. Still, Nirmala Sitharaman She showed no signs of exhaustion or the burden of being the first female finance minister in the country when she met with TOI at her North Block office and answered a series of questions. Excerpts from a conversation with Sidhartha and Surojit Gupta:
The markets were a bit lackluster after the budget. What is your point of view?
I'm not an expert Today is a Friday that is liquidation day, your attention is on that. Second, everything I said about NBFCs, the rebirth of housing finance companies, bank consolidation, will be recorded later. In the NBFC, RBI will carry out a special installation for loans. That is what it means. When the circular is read and the notification is issued, the trust will return.
Are there worries about the budget being protectionist?
I will not import products manufactured in India because we are saying that we want to do in India and we are also concerned about import bills. But if we can not produce world-class goods, then nobody will buy them ... That's why, in the defense sector, I opened that window, saying that even if it's available in India, but not of quality ... I'm going to be open to purchase and, not only that, I will deduct the basic customs duties for such imports for defense. I'm gauging my position. Unless your quality also improves, I will gradually stop buying from you. It is not protectionist. It is not against reforms and, at the same time, it does not protect non-performers.
What is the political and economic philosophy of the budget?
The kind of voting we have seen, the participation, the nature of the vote, women and youth, want stability, a government that shows the last mile, that is clean and makes firm decisions. Now, with this 303-seat mandate, that's what we have to start doing. For those few who have already begun to say 'without concessions on income taxes', when was the last concession granted? Not even four months ago. Within a fiscal year, or a year and a half, are you waiting for another income tax concession? The big message is that there are measures designed to benefit women, train young people, create opportunities for them, ensure that elderly people do not lose their pension funds and create basic infrastructure. The philosophy is that it will not forget the poor, the unreached, the unfinanced, that's why I said in the Budget that 'gaon, garib, kisan hamare kendra bindu hain' (the peoples, the poor and the farmers are our focus ).
He also had a paragraph for Indian industry. It's just to make sure we have more confidence, mutual trust. We are aware that they are the creators of wealth, and for me, wealth is not a bad word. You are creators of employment; Unless I encourage you, unless I trust you, how will my gaon, garib, kisan, work? That is the balance we have brought.
What is the deadline for Air India? disinvestment and how much do you plan to upload?
I don’t think the formulation of how much through strategic disinvestment and how much through any other mode is ready. The target is at least Rs 25,000 crore higher than revised estimates. The target (in the interim budget) was Rs 90,000 crore and it is now Rs 1.05 lakh crore. Many (strategic sale) cases approved by the cabinet committee on economic affairs will be taken up on priority. That’s why I clearly said again. Air India did not happen the last time, I am reinforcing my confidence in getting it out this time... This is a one-year budget, it has to happen in one year.
What led you to take the step to obtain sovereign loans abroad, which governments in the past have avoided?
The economy wants to grow but is waiting for investments. You (UPA) created a whole bank of unproductive assets, which we are slowly solving. But for banks to get out of the trauma and start lending will take time. So, meanwhile, we think that this is the best way to do it. Nowadays, the euro market, the yen market, the currency markets are full of funds and do not have enough investments that give good results.
There is concern about the deceleration of consumption and investment. How do you hope to revive these critical segments?
One of the ways in which the problems related to consumption have been addressed is through the reactivation of the NBFC credit flow. It has reached a stage in which companies like Lu0026T Finance and Sundaram said they had no problems with credit. The NBFC crisis is not a liquidity crisis. They also said clearly that if there are solvency problems, if there are governance problems, you should address them. But there are some who would still want credit because they are moving fast. When banks began to slow down, who were giving loans? They (NBFC) took it from the banks and began to pass it as credit. Therefore, when the NBFCs obtain credit and with the grouping of assets, there will be a certain recovery of confidence. In the same way, investment in infrastructure by the government will increase. The money that goes to activities related to construction also goes directly into the hands of people.
Would a tax cut have helped raise consumption?
I have granted a tax concession on vehicles of one type (electric vehicles) and on affordable housing. It is actually the tax deduction.
Is there hope that litigation in the housing sector, with companies in NCLT, etc., could be reduced?
With cases that have reached NCLT, anything that has happened more than 180 days must be given Maximum priority . Of course, he is in a court but we are making sure that all the requirements of his human resources are met. Similarly, with litigation related to the GST, the cases before the GST continue. We have said openly, take the details, if it suits you, pay.
Are there any comments that did not mention fiscal consolidation?
I may not have mentioned it in my speech, but it's in the documents. Therefore, fiscal consolidation is progressing perfectly in the planning path. Otherwise, how would it have reached 3.3% of GDP?
There was a lot of talk about easing fiscal restrictions.
It is true. But that is a different debate. If I have FRBM (Budget Management and Tax Regulation Law), as a law-abiding citizen, the most important thing is a FM that respects the law, I have to follow it. If you think development expenses need a more generous bag, I'm willing to go. But as long as I am (FRBM), I have to be a disciplined administrator of public funds.
Is a significant income from a higher tax expected from the super rich?
I think it's 12,000 crore.
But there is some heartburn for the proposal, since people say they are not receiving any service.
The debate about rights and duties must conclude. Your rights are protected. When you fulfill a duty for the nation, inherently your right is protected. But we can not forget that we have a duty towards other people who need education and access to health. You have a good business, you earn well and I do not protest you for that. I'm not bitter. If I'm charging for a service, it's the same for everyone. You have been blessed by the Almighty, do something for your fellow citizens.
Would your reference to the Tamil story of an elephant in the fields mean that the tax authorities are not willing to grab and grab?
The advice for the king is that the elephant will be satisfied with small mounds of rice that will be served to him. But if it enters a field, it will trample it and destroy it. I will not be the elephant that enters a field and crops crops.
When she got up this morning, she was going to present the Budget as the first female full-time finance minister in India, what were her feelings?
For the last three weeks, the feeling has been: God be with me. This is a great responsibility that the prime minister gave me. For all the hard work he does to win people's trust, my only act should not spoil it. On the contrary, he should help the maha yagna he is doing for the people.
What did the prime minister tell you after the speech?
He came and said presentation (it was a good presentation). But you did not even drink a drop of water.