Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday met industry captains in the city in an attempt to gather first-hand information on the issues while attempting to assuage their concerns. Heads of various companies have seen the move as a positive development in the troubled scenario.
It is learnt from a few attendees that during her interaction with them, she sounded positive, giving them a patient hearing. While conceding that there were many economic challenges, it was not an entirely gloomy scenario. “There were many sectors that were doing well,” said an attendee, quoting Sitharaman.
While business cycles cannot be changed, she had said her focus would be on giving the infrastructure sector a massive push so that projects could take off rapidly. She also sought to emphasise that all the relevant points and concerns raised by the attendees were noted, so that necessary actions could be initiated at the earliest.
It was also suggested by an attendee that Chinese investments into the textile sector should be encouraged, while citing the success of Bangladesh in this regard. Representatives of the textile industry highlighted problems of excess capacity and unfavourable Free Trade Agreements. They also sought accelerated depreciation benefits while the crisis-hit auto industry reiterated its demand for a cut in GST rates - from the existing 28 per cent to 18 per cent.
Noting that cement is the barometer of the economy like the housing stocks in the US, an industrialist said that after a long period of downturn, the industry had been able to clock a strong double-digit growth in financial year 2019. This was possible due to higher capacity utilisation.
“If the big ticket infrastructure investments of Rs 100 lakh crore over five years were implemented besides the housing schemes, then demand would certainly improve,” the industrialist said, adding for some of the sectors, the challenges were cyclical in nature.