Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Saturday that key macroeconomic parameters of the country were “sound” and the government was working towards the goal of reaching an 8 per cent growth rate.
“The economy is strong, foreign exchange reserves are at its highest, and investments from abroad continue steadily,” Sitharaman said while interacting with economists, traders, and industry associations at an event in Chennai.
“We are sound in macroeconomics. Even though there are discussions on whether the economic growth has come down to 5 (per cent) or 6 (per cent) from 8 per cent, our base is as strong as it was when there was 8 per cent growth. If not, will foreign exchange reserves be at the current level? They are higher than ever. Similarly, foreign direct investment is the highest ever. If it (the government’s work) is being criticised with a good intend to improve performance, it is good. We will return to 8 per cent growth,” she said.
She said people who blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for growth falling from 8 per cent to 5 per cent should consider that industries were coming to India like never before. “When international markets are fluctuating, and coronavirus and the US-China trade war are impacting the markets, if one Budget has been able to maintain all the three markets at good levels, it is the Narendra Modi government’s Budget,” she said.
She was referring to the performance of the equity, bond and currency markets since the Budget presentation on February 1. She said the government had responsibly used public funds, unlike the previous Congress-led governments that gave bank loans to “uncles and brothers-in-law” when the economy was slowing down in 2008-2010.
Sitharaman said goods and services tax (GST) collections were growing as the government was taking help of improved technology and plugging the loopholes. She said during the past three months, GST collections had exceeded Rs 1 trillion.
Ajay Bhushan Pandey, revenue secretary, said new individual income-tax proposals would help taxpayers in many ways. He said the Vivad se Viswas scheme was expected to get passed by Parliament this month and an electronic interface would be introduced where taxpayers could find out the details of their dispute and apply instantly for a settlement.
He said the duty imposed on some electric vehicle components and medical devices was to promote 'Make in India', in line with the Centre's plans.