FM Nirmala Sitharaman
FM Nirmala Sitharaman
Photo: PTI

In one of her first interviews after the announcement of the Rs 20 lakh-crore-economic package, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman assured that she is monitoring the situation this COVID-19 pandemic and his subsequent lockdown creating. She reinstated that if needed extra measures will be taken.

During her interview to Livemint, the union minister said, "I am not ruling it out (additional measures). I have to see how it (pandemic) develops as we go further.

Responding to the way she plans to fund the package, she revealed that she has kept all her options open. "I have to see where it goes."

While her economic package has received mixed reactions, she is optimistic that there will a surge in growth. "I am expecting a surge in growth, but it may be gradual because the labour component is something on which the industry is either remodelling themselves by depending more on local workers, skilling them, or probably waiting for (the return of) those people who have gone home. The surge, from that point of view, maybe gradual, given the uncertainty related to labour.

India Inc. is not pleased that they missed the stimulus bus."

Responding to a question of a strict approach on spending, Sitharaman said, "I am dealing with public money. I am dealing with money, every penny of which I am answerable. I have to be cautious.

And again, even if they suggest that you have to be generous, it is only the second month of the year."

The minister felt there is a need to create more 'local' jobs. She added, "We should create a lot more local job opportunities. I am not saying they should not move around in the country. But the point is whether we can scale their skill sets, which is crucial whether one is a local worker or a migrant. But many migrant workers come to urban areas because there are not many local job opportunities."

Departing from the government's view, she added one of the big things that have changed is that administration, urban local bodies, wards and panchayats will now have to develop a credible data source of people and their skill sets. She asserted in case such a situation arise in future everyone should be able to deal with it.

Free Press Journal