Not in denial of state of economy, jobs: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

The govt is not in denial over unemployment and the state of the economy, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, adding there were clear indications that employment was rising and economy was looking up.

Government not in denial over unemployment, state of economy: FM Nirmala Sitharaman
New Delhi: The government is not in denial over unemployment and the state of the economy, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Wednesday, adding there were clear indications that employment was rising and economy was looking up. She said there is a lack of comprehensive data for formal and informal sector employment, which was an impediment to a complete picture of the situation. “Did I say that everything is hunky dory? Did I say employment is not a critical criteria for, let's say, the common citizen?” she said at the TIMES NOW Summit on the theme - India Action Plan 2020.

“Not at all. And we are coming out with triggers to show where it is happening and where you need to do more. There's no denying at all,” Sitharaman said in response to a question on whether the heightened unemployment was not an issue for the government.

The finance minister said six indicators, including higher employee provident fund registrations and new Mudra loan seekers, showed that employment was on the rise. “There's no denying that comprehensive data for both formal sector employment and informal sector employment is absent. You do not have a comprehensive picture… As a result, all of us definitely can seek comfort of our own data,” she said. She said the government had owned up to issues in collection of data and had decided against releasing such data, which it thought was faulty. “But that does not mean that every data of the government is questionable that the government is hesitating to release every data related to, let’s say, employment or growth,” the finance minister said.


NOT IN DENIAL ABOUT ECONOMY
Sitharaman also said the government was also not in denial about the state of the economy, and had been consistently working on troubling issues since August last year, introducing reforms for various sectors that could in turn spur consumption and consumer demand.

“If the government is in denial mode, from July to February, there are people who tell me you present a budget every weekend, which means I have been acting on it,” she said. The minister pointed to the consistent recovery in GST collections, besides uptake in retail lending from banks and also rise in home bookings and increased purchases of ready to move in homes, as “definite signs of positivity” in the economic sentiment.

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In response to a question on whether the government coffers were going empty, Sitharaman cited the 22% rise in capital expenditure, and GST collections crossing Rs 1 lakh crore each month since November 2019, as clear indicators that the economic and commercial activity was back on its feet.

FEAR OF PROSECUTION IN PSBs
On the issue of banking sector officials wary of taking genuine decisions for the fear of prosecution and vigilance inquiries later on, the minister said it was the call of the banks to not seek a CBI or vigilance inquiry into a particular case. She added that in cases that were hanging fire for a long time, the banks have the option of reviewing the involvement of CBI. “The exercise had already started and I hope because of these, that doubt which is there in their minds should really be removed,” she said.

She added that an order from the Department of Financial Services in 2016 on holding the executive directors and chairmen of banks liable in case of something major going wrong, was also withdrawn.
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