Govt will take steps if coronavirus threatens raw material supplies: Sitharaman

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday the government will take steps to ease any supply constraints that the businesses fear they may face, if the threat of coronavirus, which has so far claimed over 2,800 lives worldwide, does not ease in two months.

Speaking at a post-budget press conference in Guwahati, she said the government has discussed the issue with the industry and that their concern was about the possibility of raw material supply disruption if the virus threat does not subside soon.

“They (businesses) did not express any anxiety about raw material supplies or exports getting disturbed. However, of course, some of them felt that after two months, if the situation does not improve, as regards containing the virus, they may start having problems of raw material availability, for which of course, we are trying how best we can help,” the minister said.

Sitharaman and senior finance ministry officials have been traveling across the country to interact with businesses and traders on proposals in the union budget for FY21 and the Finance Bill 2020. The suggestions received will be used in fine tuning the schemes. The Vivad Se Vishwas direct tax dispute resolution and amnesty scheme announced in the budget for which a Bill is pending in the Parliament will also get modified, Sitharaman said

Sitharaman also sought suggestions from businesses to improve business confidence in the country. She said the foreign investors she met earlier this month during her visit to Saudi Arabia for the G-20 meeting were bullish about the Indian economy’s prospects. “They are also interested in the National Infrastructure pipeline,” the minister said, referring to India’s plans for investing 100 trillion by 2024-25.

“Tell me what you want so that the business confidence can be restored…. I’m quite willing to hear, I’m quite willing to respond,” Sitharaman said.



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