Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharman on Monday assured the industry that the momentum of economic reforms will continue to make India a hotspot of global investment.
“India has turned the crisis created by Covid-19 pandemic into an opportunity to push the economic reforms, which remained pending for decades,” Sitharaman said at the National MNCs Conference 2020. The event was organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry.
“The momentum of reforms has continued even during the pandemic and this will continue,” she said. “The Prime Minister [Narendra Modi] has not lost the opportunity for reforms even at this time.”
She said that the government was making sure that the pandemic does not affect viable units. The financial sector is being professionalised and the government will continue with disinvestment and privatisation agenda, the finance minister said.
Sitharaman pointed out that not just multinational corporations but the entire industry and the economy are facing a reset exercise of doing business, adding that it is being strengthened by the Centre’s Atmanirbhar Bharat, or Self-reliant India, programme.
On tax reforms, Sitharaman said the corporate tax rate was 15%, the lowest in the world. She recalled the annual budget when the government had promised to give tax concession. “Post that announcement, in spite of the corona pandemic, when we saw most countries were locked down, we have had interest being expressed by several sovereign funds,” she said, adding that two sovereign funds recently came in, asking if they can benefit from the tax concessions.
She said that technology such as faceless assessment has eased the tax filing process. The bold step of introducing faceless assessment has removed the element of discretion and will be the only way in which tax assessees will be engaging with authorities, promoting ease of compliance, she said.
Sitharaman said that India has opened up in many sectors, including space and nuclear. The finance minister said that the government has opened up not just for small and medium industries where the Indian Army is a “captive buyer” but also for the manufacturing of big-ticket items for defence. “Indian manufacturers are welcome to join hands with foreign MNCs, which can come and set up businesses here.”
On the renewable energy sector, Sithraman said that India has made “leaps and bounds progress” in the renewable energy sector, adding that the government was committed to the cause of climate change.
The finance minister also said Indian farmers were doing a “splendid job” against all odds and producing the necessary quantities of hot agricultural products as well as vegetables and grains. “Therefore, the processes required for preserving, storing, and also giving them a longer shelf life and giving value addition is getting a lot of traction among [companies] particularly start-ups, who are looking at innovative ways of serving this area of activity.”