HTLS 2020: ‘Arrival of vaccine to bring positivity, boost economic recovery’

As the Indian economy is facing one of its toughest times in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has grappled the whole world for over ten months now, Sitharaman was in conversation with R. Sukumar, Editor-in Chief, Hindustan Times. The session revolve around economy post the Covid-19 pandemic, among other things.

Her speech comes right after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today in its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meet projected India’s GDP to contract by 7.5% in the current fiscal year, as against its earlier projection of 9.5% contraction.

The 18th edition of the prestigious Summit is being held virtually amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, and aims to drive conversations that can help with – ‘Defining a New Era’.

The virtual summit will bring together global leaders to draw a blueprint for what lies ahead for India and the world.

The live discussions are spread over 4 weeks starting November 19, 2020; every Thursday and Friday.

Here are the key updates from Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s speech at HTLS 2020:

-“Given all the difficulties, lockdown, all difficulties, people of India kept going on. People who are weathering it out every day are giving me strength,” Sitharaman says on what gives her strength amid Covid-19 pandemic.

-“Periodicity of dosage and the number of dosage is not very clear right now. What we know now is to wear mask, maintain social distancing and other Covid appropriate behaviour,” the Finance Minister says.

-With eye on vaccination, Sitharaman answers a slew of questions on the economic recovery next year:

“Proper economic recovery is possible from next year. The arrival of Covid-19 vaccine in brings a positivity and for that, mechanism is being put in right now for proper delivery of the vaccine. All this is going to bring optimism and positivity,” says FM.

-The finance minister also says that over 30 crore people received cash benefits during the pandemic, which may not be adequate, but they received.

-Discussions were done: Nirmala Sitharaman on agriculture reforms:

“One thing is clear. Under PM Modi a lot of homework happens before taking the final call. Every party has spoken about it. In fact, these reforms were part of their manifestos. I know the agriculture ministry talked with the stakeholders before the laws were finalised,” says Sitharaman.

-“We take Minimum Support Price (MSP) very seriously and procure MSP much more than earlier governments have done. We have given the farmers a lot ore money under MSP, says FM.

-“The Agriculture Minister is sitting and engaging in meaningful conversation with the farmers with an open mind, I am sure something will come out of it,” says the finance minister on the ongoing farmers’ protest to repeal the farm laws.

-When asked about a vaccine budget owing to the pandemic, Sitharaman added, “We don’t know the details of the vaccine. Will it be one dose or two dose? Will there be recurrent doses? Unless we get these details, how much per dose will cost, we can’t say about vaccine’s budgetary provision.”

-Finance Minister Sitharaman says festive demand alone cannot account for 1.5 lakh spike in GST collections. Industry leaders are looking at capacity expansion today and core industries like cement, iron and steel and integrated plants are expanding, Sitharaman adds.

-GST council does not change rates in each and every one of its sittings, she adds.

“Investments towards expanding capacity are coming in across units. Prevailing demand is making its presence felt in PMI manufacturing,” she says.

-“Not worried about inflations related to food demand and supply as hike in prices is mostly because it being seasonal,” Sitharaman says. “With the intervention from the government, I have a feeling that food inflation will phase out,” she adds.

-“Recovery is there – some say patchy – but it has been happening,” the finance minister says.

-“We are certainly at an entirely different environment since I last gave the budget and globally, the world has seen unexplainable challenges for every financial minsters across the world,” says Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

-Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in conversation with R. Sukumar, Editor-in Chief, Hindustan Times opens day six of HTLS 2020.

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