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Twitter spat between Finance Minister and Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

PTI New Delhi | Updated on September 19, 2019 Published on September 19, 2019

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw. File photo   -  Bloomberg

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says she is working on reviving the economy’s growth

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday defended her handling of the economy saying she has been working on measures to revive the growth from a six-year low.

Sitharaman, who is not known to reply to comments made on her twitter handle, instantly choose to respond to drug-maker Biocon Chairman Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw’s criticism of lack of fiscal measures to support growth.

Shaw had wondered why Finance Minister, and not the health minister, addressed the press conference on Wednesday to announce a ban on e-cigarettes.

Sitharaman clarified that she had addressed the press conference on Wednesday in her capacity as head of the group of ministers (GoM) that had gone into the issue of ban on e-cigarettes.

She had also mentioned at the press conference on Wednesday that Health Minister Harsh Vardhan was travelling out of the country.

And followed it up with a third tweet on working on matters of the economy.

With her maiden budget on July 5 seemingly failing to address issues facing the economy and doing little to bolster growth that has slowed to a six-year low and check unemployment that’s risen to a 45-year high, Sitharaman has over the past one month announced in measures in three tranches for different sectors of the economy including automobiles, banks and real estate.

While she had pre-budget meetings with top representatives of various sectors to understand their requirements and issues facing them, the finance minister met different sectoral officials again within weeks of the Budget presentation and has repeatedly stated that these meetings formed the basis for the measures she has announced in three tranches.

India’s GDP growth slowed for the fifth consecutive quarter in April-June 2019 to 5 per cent, the lowest in six years. This was on the back of faltering domestic demand, with both private consumption and investment proving lackluster.

In response, her initial policy measures included support for the automobile sector, reduction in capital gains tax, and additional liquidity support for shadow banks. Accompanying structural reforms included a further easing of the foreign direct investment (FDI) regime and consolidation of the public banking sector.

In the third part, she on last Saturday (September 14) announced a stressed asset fund to fund unfinished real estate projects and measures to boost exports.

There are expectations that she may announce the fourth tranche of measures soon.

With some on Twitterati seeing the exchange as a spat, Shaw tweeted again to clarify it wasn’t.

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Published on September 19, 2019
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