FM Sitharaman bullish on double-digit GDP growth

Hoping for a double-digit growth in GDP in this financial year, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said the nation is on a strong wicket when compared to others, and is responsive in terms of extending hand-holding to the required sections.

Speaking to media persons here, she quoted reports saying the country has zero per cent chance of slipping into recession.

“I hope for (double-digit growth). We will work for it… So if you’re not on the verge of recession, it also gives me the confidence that if you are constantly responsive in terms of the sections which need hand-holding, in terms of the boost that we have to give to the economy…” she said when asked if she expects double-digit growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) for the year.

Recent figures released by the Centre indicated that the nation clocked 13.5 per cent growth in GDP in the first quarter of the current financial year. It was 20.1 per cent a year ago.

Sitharaman further said some may argue that the high growth rate is because of the low base. “Compared to the economies we are talking about, we are on a sound wicket. We are literally the fastest growing economy,” she said.

Referring to the World Bank and IMF reports, the Union Finance Minister said she was also taking into consideration the fact that economies which were far more developed than India and comparable with the country, are on the verge of recession.

To another query on freebies, she said everybody should participate in the debate on the issue.

“We should become a party to the discussion. Because if you are giving something for free it means somebody is paying for it,” Sitharaman said.

She suggested that any government after coming to power must assess its financial situation in terms of tax revenues and others, and make provisions before offering freebies.

On the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act limits to the states, the Union Finance Minister said during COVID-19 times, the borrowing limits of the states were increased from 3 per cent to almost 5 per cent with some conditions that the reforms are put through.

“The conditions were not indiscreet. They (FRBM limits) were very clearly aimed at achieving the objectives of some of the reforms. The Centre at the time of lockdown and post the lockdown understood this and in consultation with the states increased the borrowing limits,” Sitharaman said.

The Telangana government has been accusing the Centre of curtailing its borrowing limits in the recent times.

To a query on her outburst towards a district collector who failed to give her a reply on the Centre and state’s share on subsidised rice, the minister said as a public representative she has every “business” to question the official.

She said no objectionable, unparliamentary words, or discourteous language was used against the official.

Reacting to some of the Telangana ministers’ comments that the state got less from the Centre than what it paid to them by way of taxes, she said, “This is a very regressive way of handling issues between Centre and states… I think this is disingenuous.”

The Telangana government which did not participate in several central schemes till 2020-21, had later joined some of them, she said.

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