Momentum to continue,more steps in the works, says FM Nirmala Sitharaman

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November 24, 2020 8:24 AM

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday stressed that the momentum of economic reforms will continue with a view to making India a hot global investment destination, seeking to assure India Inc that several more steps are in the offing. Even as the economy is witnessing a reset after the lifting of lockdown, “we are making […]

The government has already envisaged increasing public spend on healthcare to 2.5% of GDP (from around 1.3% currently).The government has already envisaged increasing public spend on healthcare to 2.5% of GDP (from around 1.3% currently).

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday stressed that the momentum of economic reforms will continue with a view to making India a hot global investment destination, seeking to assure India Inc that several more steps are in the offing. Even as the economy is witnessing a reset after the lifting of lockdown, “we are making sure viable units don’t suffer”,she said.

Speaking at a CII event, Sitharaman said:“More reform related steps are being taken up and the financial sector is being increasingly professionalised. We will go with greater momentum for the disinvestment of those enitties that have been cleared by the Cabinet.”

“Even at the time (of) Covid pandemic,the Prime Minister has not lost an opportunity to take deep reforms,to under take those kinds of reforms which have not seen the light of the day over the decades,”she said.

The government had budgeted an ambitious disinvestment target of Rs 2.1 lakh crore for FY21, hoping to garner a substantial chunk of non-tax revenue to partly make up for a lower-than-expected rise in tax collection, even before the pandemic spread its tentacles.

Of the total target,Rs 1.2 lakh crore is to come from the divestment of public-sector under takings and another` 90,000 crore from a minor stake sale in LIC and the offloading of the government’s residual stake (47.11%) in IDBI Bank.But no disinvestment has taken place so far this fiscal due to the pandemic. Earlier this fiscal,Sitharaman had said the Cabinet had cleared disinvestments of the government’s stake in 22-23 central public-sector enterprises. The leading corporations that have been on the block since last year include BPCL,Air India,Shipping Corporation and Container Corporation.

Vedanta Ltd, the India arm of Anil Agarwal-controlled,London-headquartered Vedanta group,said it formally evinced interest in state-run oil refiner and marketer BPCL. While the government had confirmed receipt of‘multiple expressions of interests”from domestic and foreign firms for the controlling stake in the oil major by the November 16 deadline,Vedanta is the only potential bidder to have confirmed it’s in the fray.

Explaining the government’s idea behind the Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative, the minister said this is more a call to“make sure our skills are of utilised optimally and India stands solidly on its own strength” despite the pandemic. She made it clear that this campaign isn’t about blocking imports and keeping India away from international trade; rather, it’s about realising India’s own manufacturing potential and to ensure that the country becomes a major investment hotspot.

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