NEW DELHI, Sept 19: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday defended her handling of the economy saying she has been working on measures to revive the growth from a six-year low.
Sitharaman, who is not known to reply to comments made on her twitter handle, instantly choose to respond to drug-maker Biocon Chairman Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw’s criticism of lack of fiscal measures to support growth.
“As Finance Minister you might’ve observed I’ve been working on and regularly speaking about measures we’ve been taking on matters of the economy,” Sitharaman posted in a three-part tweet.
Shaw had wondered why Finance Minister, and not the health minister, addressed the press conference on Wednesday to announce a ban on e-cigarettes.
“E-cigarettes banned, says Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman – Shd this not come from Min of Health? How about banning gutka too? How about MoF announcing some fiscal measures to revive the economy?” Shaw tweeted this morning.
Sitharaman clarified that she had addressed the press conference on Wednesday in her capacity as head of the group of ministers (GoM) that had gone into the issue of ban on e-cigarettes.
“Kiran ji, a few things. This press conference was dedicated to Cabinet decisions. I began by saying that I was there in my capacity as Chair of the GoM which has dealt with the matter. @drharshvardhan is out of the country for an international meet,” she said in her first tweet.
She had also mentioned at the press conference on Wednesday that Health Minister Harsh Vardhan was travelling out of the country.
“Cabinet Minister/s join @PrakashJavdekar, the I&B Minister, when required. Health Secretary was also with me, explaining details. These are protocols, as you know, which govt press conferences follow,” she said in her second tweet.
And followed it up with a third tweet on working on matters of the economy.
With her maiden budget on July 5 seemingly failing to address issues facing the economy and doing little to bolster growth that has slowed to a six-year low and check unemployment that’s risen to a 45-year high, Sitharaman has over the past one month announced in measures in three tranches for different sectors of the economy including automobiles, banks and real estate.
While she had pre-budget meetings with top representatives of various sectors to understand their requirements and issues facing them, the finance minister met different sectoral officials again within weeks of the Budget presentation and has repeatedly stated that these meetings formed the basis for the measures she has announced in three tranches.
India’s GDP growth slowed for the fifth consecutive quarter in April-June 2019 to 5 per cent, the lowest in six years. This was on the back of faltering domestic demand, with both private consumption and investment proving lackluster.
In response, her initial policy measures included support for the automobile sector, reduction in capital gains tax, and additional liquidity support for shadow banks. Accompanying structural reforms included a further easing of the foreign direct investment (FDI) regime and consolidation of the public banking sector.
In the third part, she on last Saturday (September 14) announced a stressed asset fund to fund unfinished real estate projects and measures to boost exports.
There are expectations that she may announce the fourth tranche of measures soon.
With some on Twitterati seeing the exchange as a spat, Shaw tweeted again to clarify it wasn’t.
“Media loves to rile viewers by using sensational headlines n get eyeballs. There is no ‘spat’ or ‘war of words’. I consider our FM to be a very reasonable n pragmatic person who displayed maturity n grace in her response to my comments including her assurance on the economy,” she tweeted. (PTI)