The Maha Vikas Aghadi partners -Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Shiv Sena and Congress- have lashed out at the central government for providing a slew of incentives for GIFT City. The International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) also announced the setting up of a fintech hub and international bullion exchange there. MVA partners have alleged that it was aimed at reducing the importance of Mumbai as India’s commercial capital and the international finance centre. This is the fourth straight year when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government, in the annual budget, announced incentives to boost GIFT City.
According to the ruling partners, the central government’s move will not only cause financial damage to the country, but also bring international discredit to it by undermining the importance of Mumbai.
NCP chief spokesperson Mahesh Tapase claimed that the Narendra Modi government is bent on reducing Mumbai's importance, which is emerging as a financial hub in south-east Asian markets. “Major institutions have been moved out of Mumbai to Gujarat with an intention to reduce Mumbai’s prestige as the financial center. NCP will not tolerate any attempt to diminish the stature of Mumbai,” he said.
The Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee spokesman Sachin Sawant said time and again the BJP leadership, including former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, have been playing with the emotions of the people of Mumbai with an assurance of IFSC in the city. “There was a committee headed by former minister Jayant Sinha who had made recommendations in its favour. However, it has turned out to be an eye wash. FM’s announcements in the annual budget has yet again exposed the BJP government’s intentions to promote GIFT City and, thereby, reduce Mumbai’s importance,” he opined.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s media advisor Harshal Pradhan said the central government has completely neglected India’s commercial capital Mumbai’s budgetary allocation just because MVA has taken a different view on the development of the bullet train. “It is really very sad that the Finance Minister can make outlays for GIFT City, but not for Mumbai,” he noted.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s decision came months after the central government, in May last year, had decided to establish the IFSC Authority in Gandhinagar instead of Mumbai. As reported by the Free Press Journal, NCP chief Sharad Pawar had criticised the central government’s move, saying that it would be perceived as a move to shift financial institutions and business houses away from Maharashtra that would create unnecessary political disturbances.
Pawar, in a letter to PM Narendra Modi, had said that Mumbai has been recognised as world’s top 10 centers of commerce in terms of global financial flow, generating 6.16% of India’s GDP and accounting for 25% of industrial output and 70% of capital transactions to the Indian economy.