‘Biggest challenge in any sector is poor customer demand’

Richa Mishra New Delhi | Updated on January 26, 2020

Players tapped by BJP come up with 200-odd suggestions for PM, Sitharaman

Do not cut expenditure, but focus on other means of resource generation to keep the economy on track, various stakeholders have advised Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, as she sets out to present her second Budget on February 1.

The suggestions, which have been submitted to both Prime Minister Minister Narendra Modi and the FM, came from various stakeholders who were tapped by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to identify the immediate issues to be addressed in the Budget and the larger policy initiatives that need to be rolled out.

A clear consensus was that the Finance Minister should not fret too much about fiscal deficit targets. In the alternative, the government should continue public spending and focus more on alternative means of revenue generation instead of just increasing taxes.

Recourse to recovery, decriminalisation of company law, procuring for railways through the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) and simplification of tax administration to ensure overzealous officers are not harassing the common man are also part of the 200-odd suggestions.

Focus on 10 sectors

Gopal Krishna Agarwal, National Spokesperson of BJP (Economic Affairs), told BusinessLine: “Fiscal deficit target in itself is not so sacrosanct, though discipline is definitely required. Instead of just reducing the spend of the government to meet the fiscal deficit, the government should opt for disinvestment, monetisation of assets, creation of debt instruments and better debt financing as well as revival of the bond market, among others.”

“The suggestions have been segregated into two categories — immediate challenges to be addressed in the Budget and larger policy initiatives that can have an impact on the entire ecosystem,” he said. He added, “What we had was a systematic series of meetings. We picked up 10 sectors. In the sectoral meetings, we tried to touch about 250 organisations at the ground level. In each sector, we called about 15-20 organisations. But, before that with our own internal research team, we prepared a background paper.”

Asked about the 10 sectors, Agarwal said: “We categorised the sectors into three broad heads - where India is a global like pharmaceuticals, IT, automobiles etc; areas where we thought we are good employment generators such as MSME, manufacturing heavy industries, agriculture, food processing and real estate; backbone ecosystems... macro and micro policies, the GST, the IBC, the company law and the financial markets wherein discussions with professional bodies happened on how to clear the existing bottlenecks.”

He said, “In our meeting with various stakeholders there was a consensus on the rural sector getting more money and promoting schemes such as PM Kisan, MNREGA and Aayushman Bharat.”

“One thing was clear. Nobody expected any sectoral fiscal stimulus. But everyone is expecting more liquidity in the rural economy/agriculture and in the lower strata of the society. The biggest challenge everyone was talking about was consumer demand being slow.”

Published on January 26, 2020

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