Nirmala Sitharman (PTI)
Nirmala Sitharman (PTI)

On Monday, Nirmala Sitharaman’s call asking for Budget 2020 suggestions led to some chagrin on Twitter with many users slamming her. With Jaitley gone, Sitharaman has become one of the most criticised Finance Ministers in recent years and she has become a lightning rod for criticism.

Party colleague Subramanian Swamy wastes no time in claiming that she ‘doesn’t know any economics’.

So, when Sitharaman tweeted asking for suggestion for Budget 2020, Twitter wasn’t very kind.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday started her pre-Budget consultations with different stakeholder groups, the first one being with those from the digital economy, fintech and start-ups and the second with those from the financial sector and capital markets.

She is likely to present her second Budget for the Modi 2.0 government in Parliament on February 1.

The main areas of discussion during the first meeting included data issues like the use of big data technology for small and medium enterprises and unleashing its power for public governance.

The other issues included digital infrastructure and role of government, regulation of digital economy especially in privacy, financial regulation, ease of doing business environment for start-ups, infrastructure gaps for Digital India and taxation issues.

The meeting was attended by Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur, Finance Secretary Rajeev Kumar, Secretary of Economic Affairs Atanu Chakraborty, Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Secretary at the Department of Electronics and Information Technology Ajay Prakash Sawhney, Secretary at the Department of Telecommunications Anshu Prakash, CBDT Chairman Pramod Chandra Mody, CBIC Chairman P K Das, Chief Economic Advisor K V Subramanian and other senior officials of the Ministry of Finance.

Representatives of the digital economy, fintech and start-ups shared their views on big data, incentives for encouraging setting up of data centres, fiscal incentives for data localisation, incentives for pushing digital penetration in rural areas, corporate guarantee to start-ups for competing with other nations, rationalisation of minimum alternate tax rate and tax exemption for start-up units.

They also spoke about the creation of specific agency for looking after cross border financial crimes, increasing women employment (gender dividend in skill development), training youth in skill development along with international internships and incentivising research and development within India.

While industry experts suggested improvements in their respective fields, they also gave a variety of solutions to the sector-specific problems. Many speakers suggested giving tax sops to start-ups and nurture them in the country.

During the second meeting, main areas of discussion included increasing credit off-take from banks, governance changes in public sector banks with special focus on P J Nayak Committee recommendations, creation of a well-functioning bond markets, benefits of Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme, alternative investment funds in real estate sector and measures for alleviating stress among non-banking finance companies.

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Free Press Journal