Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh:
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Wednesday that revival of the nation’s economy after the COVID-19 lockdown was clearly visible and the indicators looked positive. “We are getting good positive marks from high frequency indicators. And indicators from all states show a revival,” she pointed out. “I have been speaking with industry leaders directly who say we reached pre-COVID capacity utilisation. So revival is clearly visible,” Ms Sitharaman told a press conference during a visit to Vijayawada.
On the issue of GST compensation to states, the finance minister said the GST Council will meet again on the 12th. “We had a seven-hour long discussion with all states. Again we are going to meet on the 12th. That will decide how things are on compensation-related matters,” she said.
The GST Council was already in agreement that the compensation cess collection should go beyond five years. “It was only meant to be collected for five years the transition five years. But the GST Council decided to continue collecting the cess. So that is very clear,” Ms Sitharaman noted.
On the three farm-related laws recently enacted by the Centre, Ms Sitharaman said the protests being carried out in various states were based only on “political motives”. “They are opposing the laws only for politics, even forgetting their own promises made in their 2019 election manifesto,” she said, referring to the Congress manifesto.
“We feel they included that in their manifesto only to hoodwink the voters and grab votes. Did you tell lies then or telling them now?” she asked.
Ms Sitharaman recalled that the BJP too made the promises in its election manifesto and fulfilled them as Prime Minister Narendra Modi desired those reforms for the benefit of the farmers.
The finance minister said she wondered why the Opposition leaders did not speak in Parliament when the bills were being discussed.
“When the bills came up for discussion in the Rajya Sabha, upon clearance in Lok Sabha, the Opposition did not raise any questions. They did not display their leadership and merrily sat behind some fringe groups that created trouble in the Rajya Sabha, or joined the ruckus in tearing off the Bills. But they did not raise any questions,” Ms Sitharaman said.
Asked if contract farmers would be brought under the income tax net, the finance minister said they had not given any such thought so far. “Please do not make any issue of it,” she said.
Earlier in the day, Ms Sitharaman interacted with farmers at a field in Jakkula Nekkalam village near Gannavaram airport and elicited feedback on various farm-related issues.
She took part in a programme in the evening, organised by the BJP, to educate farmers on the new farm-related laws enacted by the Centre.