On Wednesday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that inflation has reached a manageable level. She simultaneously emphasised that job creation and the equitable distribution of wealth are now a priority over inflation.

“Some (priorities) are, of course, red-lettered. Some may not be. The red-lettered ones would, of course, be jobs, equitable wealth distribution, and making sure India is moving on the path of growth. In that sense, inflation is not red-lettered. I hope it doesn’t surprise many of you. We have shown that in the past couple of months that we were able to bring it to a manageable level,” she said while addressing the India Ideas Summit organised here.

These remarks have been made at a time when retail inflation based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) dropped to 6.7 per cent in July after touching a record high of 7.8 per cent in April. The number for August is to be out next week and it is estimated to go down further.

However, it is still above the RBI’s comfort level of 6 per cent. At the same time, wholesale inflation, based on the Wholesale Price Index (WPI), is still in double digits, although this too has seen a downward trend for the last two months.

‘Priorities set’

According to the finance minister, the two objectives (job creation and equitable wealth distribution) have been set as priorities in order to increase India’s pace of development. “India doesn’t have the luxury of sequencing priorities and efforts to tackle them must take place simultaneously,” she added.

Sitharaman also talked about the data privacy bill, which was earlier withdrawn due to glitches. She said, “The minister concerned has been working on the data privacy bill. IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has assured that soon enough we will have the new data privacy bill, which will be a product of consultations and address concerns we had in the past.”

When asked about the G20 meet which will be in November this year, Sitharaman said that India will be taking over the G20 chair at a very challenging time. The key areas of discussion are yet to be revealed by the minister.

Addressing concerns over crude and climate change, she said that the times are uncertain and efforts are being made to overcome these concerns. She also discussed India‘s keen interest in shifting to renewable energy and reducing coal dependency. However, a key concern in this area of development is the population. India’s huge population is affecting the energy transition.

She hoped that India and the US together would contribute to global growth.

“I am confident that India’s key strengths—the size and diversity of the Indian economy; the availability of skilled manpower; and the progress made in the digital transition—will enable the country’s economy to comprise a percentage of the global GDP in the next 20 years. In the process, India and the US will become the engines of global growth. Both nations have much in common and can collaborate for global good in these difficult and challenging times,” added Sitharaman.

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