Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government was trying to address the issues sectorally, as each sector has different issues and added that jobs in the informal sector were not properly documented, since the NSSO data focussed on the formal sector only.
“We are responding to the industry requirements. Across the board, there is no one particular answer that I can give, saying this is the magic wand. We are addressing issues sectorally,” she told reporters in Chennai after meeting tax officials, and trade representatives. She was responding to queries on whether the government recognised a slowdown in the economy.
Commenting on the apprehensions of huge job losses, in the backdrop of reports like that of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), she said the data on jobs in India, even before the NDA came to power in 2014, has only concentrated on the formal sector only. “Indian informal sector employment is not appropriately or exhaustively documented. When we are referring to data from government organisations such as the NSSO, they talk only about the formal sector and not about the informal... Our nature of economy is such that a major part of the employment is in the informal sector only. If there is stress in the respective sectors, I am willing to hear,” she added.
The government has been in consultation with various sectors and has come out with two tranches of announcements in the last two weeks. Consultations are in progress and the government will come back to respond to sectors, which want some relief, she said.
There are ground-level changes following the steps announced in the Budget, Sitharaman said. It includes liquidity issues, bank capitalisation, the NBFC issues, etc. It would take some time to assess the results, she said.
Consultations are going on for sectors, including agriculture, for which the government will come out with responses. Overall, the government feels that the monsoon will meet the requirement for agriculture.
The issues with the automobile industry are different, including that the customers might be waiting for BS VI introduction, so that there would be more discount, the industry told the finance minister. Besides, with the push to electric vehicles, there was confusion on what will happen to BS IV, BS VI vehicles. The inventory has piled up.
“We have to respond to most of these issues in phases, as they come. The GST rate reduction has to go to GST Council for decision,” she added.
The amalgamation in the banking sector has been announced after considering various factors, and there would not be any job losses associated to this, Sitharaman said, adding even after the previous amalgamations, no job was lost.
Responding to queries on former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s comment that India was in the midst of a prolonged slowdown and the alleged mismanagement by the government, the finance minister said she would like to hear the remarks herself.