Speaking at the ET Awards for Corporate Excellence, Sitharaman said the government had already started working on concerns over the economy based on feedback from the industry even before the growth numbers came in last week. The finance minister did not speak on the likelihood that the government might overshoot its fiscal deficit target because of the lowering of taxes and increased spending. “There are a lot of guesstimates going around, saying the target for the year has already been crossed… What will she be doing? I will allow you to speculate for some more time,” Sitharaman told the gathering of CEOs and businessmen.
However, her cabinet colleague and minister for commerce and industry, and railways, Piyush Goyal pointed out that the fiscal deficit as a percentage of the budgeted amount at the end of October was 102%, which was less than 104% recorded in the same period last year. Among the measures the government was taking was bringing new industries which are moving out of China. She said there was progress on that.
She also spoke about investment in infrastructure, saying a task force had looked at a pipeline of infrastructure projects and the government would announce the first lot of 10 projects to invest in by December 15.
“We are working to make the GST system as simple as we claim it to be. With regards to rationalisation of taxation, we are talking to all the states, wanting to make sure that all the essential items which affect the lives of the poor will be kept at the lowest, if not exempted. But for the rest, we are trying to rationalise the rates,” she said.