Industry in recovery mode, budget proposals on course: Nirmala Sitharaman

NEW DELHI: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said the industry is in recovery mode and several budget proposals are on course, including disinvestment, despite a fresh wave of coronavirus infections and local lockdowns.
The government, the minister said, has been taking steps to deal with the second wave of Covid-19 with regard to supply of medicines and oxygen.
While the second wave of the pandemic has been challenging on many levels, the government has been taking decisions, including on import of medical oxygen, and boosting supply of medicines, she said at a webinar.
“We have to wait and watch a bit and then we have to take a call…but at the moment activities are all happening, industry is still on its recovery mode, and therefore, I won’t rush to think that this will hurt us if we are able to coordinate better,” she said.
She further said budget proposals with regard to disinvestment and setting up of development finance institution (DFI) are on course.
“This morning when I met with secretaries, the mood and also the way in which we have planned out for disinvestment, setting up DFI, looking at the asset reconstruction company (ARC), everything is on course,” the minister said when asked whether the second wave will derail budget proposals.
The government plans to garner Rs 1.75 lakh crore by selling stakes in state-run companies, including privatisation of two banks and one state-run general insurance company.
Quoting the Prime Minister, Sitharaman said there will not be a country-wide lockdown comparable to 2020.
A fresh wave of infections has led to localised containments in some parts of the country, affecting the movement of people and goods.
The finance minister said it was too early to say if the restrictions are going to affect India beyond this week.
India registered over 3.14 lakh new coronavirus cases in a day, the highest-ever single-day count recorded in any country, taking the the total tally of Covid-19 cases in the country to 1,59,30,965, according to the Union health ministry data updated on Thursday.
A total of 3,14,835 fresh infections were registered in a span of 24 hours, while the death toll increased to 1,84,657 with a record 2,104 new fatalities. The national Covid-19 recovery rate fell below 85 per cent.
On the India-EU trade pact, Sitharaman said India places a lot of importance on trade agreement with the US and European Union.
The negotiations between India and the European Union on a free trade agreement have been stalled since May 2013, when both sides failed to bridge substantial gaps on crucial issues, including data security status for the IT sector.
The negotiations with the 27-nation grouping were launched in June 2007.