Nirmala Sitharaman says ‘steadiness’ in economy is a good sign

Nirmala Sitharaman made it clear that she was not expecting a jump in the number either.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said the “steadiness” in the economy is a good sign, soon after the official data showed the December quarter GDP growth at 4.7%.

Speaking at a business leadership awards event, Ms. Sitharaman made it clear that she was not expecting a jump in the number either.

India’s economic growth slowed to 4.7% in October-December 2019, according to official data released on Friday.

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth was registered at 5.6% in the corresponding quarter of 2018-19, as per the data released by the National Statistical Office (NSO).

 On the impact of coronavirus on the economy, she said there is no need to immediately press the “panic button”, but admitted that it may get challenging if the issues prolong for another two or three weeks, citing her conversations with the industry players over the last few days.

She also said the pharmaceutical and electronic industries, which depend heavily on imports from China for raw materials, have suggested airlifting of essential items and the government may consider the same.

However, the logistics of the same, like aggregating the goods and getting them to a single place will have to be done by the industry itself, she said, promising help from the government through the consular staff.

Ms. Sitharaman said the government is “pushing the banks like never before” to lend as much as possible across all categories, including retail, home and agriculture segments.

She, however, said that the government wants to learn from the experiences of the 2008-09 and ensure that there are no non-performing assets piled up for later years.

Ms. Sitharaman said the government is working creating a development finance institution (DFI), as were bodies like ICICI and IDBI before they turned into full-fledged banks.

The minister said that the ministry has managed to do whatever it can for the economy within the space offered by keeping the fiscal deficit under check and also added that it is not “closing options” on the same.

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