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BS Manthan: High tariffs not for ever, says FM Nirmala Sitharaman | BS Events

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the Business Standard Manthan event at Bharat Mandapam in New Delhi on Wednesday (Photo: Priyanka Parashar)

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday said high tariffs for some sectors were not a permanent stance of the government and policy calibrations were being made.

Speaking at the Business Standard Manthan, Sitharaman said Aatmanirbhar Bharat was not a regressive step.


“Artificial protection creating inefficiencies cannot be supported and we are conscious of that. And so there are calibrations being done in this policy … We do want to give some protection for some time. It is not permanent — ‘shut the door off’. We are not saying we will grow but we will take 50 years to grow,” Sitharaman said.


On higher tariffs and the removal of exemptions, she said the decision on Aatmanirbhar Bharat was regarding areas 

where the country could not afford to have cheap imports. “If our production is not cost-competitive, we will have to face the music,” she said. 

The finance minister reiterated the government would adhere to its privatisation policy to ensure that the public sector was present only in core, strategic areas.


“We are not delaying (things), doing nothing. The valuation of these companies is being closely monitored and improved before we take them to the market,” Sitharaman added.


On reforming the new pension scheme, the minister urged the states not to take a knee-jerk call on these matters since it would have serious implications for their as well as the Centre’s finances. She said the committee looking at these reforms had met almost all stakeholders and was expected to come up with recommendations.

Sitharaman stated in economic matters the differences between the Centre and the states should not be political. States should not spend time bickering and instead place their arguments before the Finance Commission, she said.

The minister said reforms were not only in the central government’s domain but also in that of the states as well as panchayats and urban bodies.


“The responsibility to have a better system functioning, a better system of governance, and better ease of doing businesses should also be with the states and the third layer of elected democracy — panchayat bodies,” Sitharaman said.

Sitharaman said the reforms undertaken between 2014 and 2019 and during the pandemic underlined the commitment of the government in carrying out reforms.


“We will carry out this momentum in the third term, come what may,” she said.


She said sustaining the momentum on reforms was an important factor that gave the government the confidence to reach the goal of becoming a developed country by 2047.


“This dream is not just a castle in the air. It is grounded, and it has reasons to be trusted because of the concrete paths laid towards it.”


Sitharaman listed the four Is — infrastructure, investment, innovation, and inclusiveness — as the pathway for achieving the goal of a developed India by 2047.


“The ripple effect which can be caused by each one of these four (Is) can give us the mass to have the strength to realise this dream. We are able to crowd in private capital. We are also able to see gross fixed capital formation is also showing tangible improvement,” the finance minister said.

Sitharaman said India had seen recovery from Covid, to the envy of many countries, because of the reforms between 2014 and 2019 and during and despite Covid. “India is the fastest-growing economy with all cylinders firing.”


She said it was important to have a government with a substantial mandate from the people, a government with the dedication and commitment to come up with major reforms and major decisions without losing time in having a coalition work. “That is what we’ve shown in the past 10 years and, I think, will be showing you in the next term as well.”


Sitharaman said India had turned the twin balance sheet disadvantage into an advantage. She said 8 per cent gross domestic product growth over three quarters and a good sustainable momentum for growth was a good plank for India to stand on. 

She also said revenue collection, supported by very prudent expenditure management, had resulted in better fiscal management and the government’s commitment to a fiscal glide path.


She added a digital transformation was on top of the agenda of the government.


It has impacted not just the fintech or payment revolution but the way education and health services are being rendered and the way in which governments today see the virtue of using digital methods, according to her.


“A digital revolution has put India much ahead of many countries.”

First Published: Mar 27 2024 | 11:42 PM IST

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