Ongoing unrest over Citizenship Act won't derail our economic agenda: FM

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the first pre-Budget consultation with representatives of the financial sector, in New Delhi | PTI
The ongoing turmoil over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act would not impact the government’s response to economic challenges, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Monday, adding that the government was committed to reforms and was taking steps to revive growth. She also cautioned against “jihadist, Maoist, and separatist" elements getting into student activism. 

“There's no undermining of India's unity and its economy is important...We can assure every step is being taken to ensure that India and the economy go forward and benefit all,” Sitharaman said at Times Network’s India Economic Conclave.

“I shall be, together with the prime minister, working towards engaging with every sector and making sure their requirements are fulfilled and challenges are met,” she added.

She, however, declined to say when she expected a turnaround in the economy. “I am not going to spend time saying when it (slowdown) is going to reverse. As long as anybody wants the government to intervene, we shall intervene,” she said.

India’s economy grew at 4.5 per cent in the September quarter, the slowest in six years.

The government, she said, was working on reviving consumption by pushing forward rural programmes and ensuring money reaches consumers. Public investment in infrastructure was being taken seriously and the pending dues of small and medium enterprises were being cleared, she added.

She acknowledged that goods and service tax collection in the first eight months of the financial year was lower than expected, and added there was no discussion in her department to revise the GST rates. 

The minister said the government was also working to improve the quality and credibility of data. “Data is something which the government has been looking at purely couple of last months and making sure that any misgivings about the data will be addressed so that data from the government, irrespective of whatever it reflects, is going to be credible for people to accept," she said.

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