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No recession as macroeconomic fundamentals of economy strong : Sitharaman

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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while speaking on price rise, inflation in the Parliament on Monday said that there is no question of India getting into stagflation or recession and the government is making efforts to bring down retail inflation below 7 per cent despite Covid pandemic, supply-chain issues and Russia-Ukraine war among other global challenges. "We've never seen a pandemic of this kind... all of us were trying to make sure that people in our constituencies are given extra help. I recognise that everybody - MPs, State governments - has played their role. Otherwise, India wouldn't be where it is compared to rest of the world," Nirmala Sitharaman said.

She hit out at the Congress party saying during UPA's rule, the inflation was into double digits. As Sitharaman was responding to Opposition's demand for a discussion on inflation, Congress members staged a walk out from Lok Sabha when she started to reply. India remains the fastest growing economy in the assessment of global agencies, the Union Minister said. "Without undermining some of the points that many members have said, I find that it was more a discussion on political angles of price rise rather than actually data-driven concerns about price. So, I too will try to reply a little politically," she said before beginning her response on the issue.

In 2012-13, CPI-based inflation was 10.05%, it was 9.38% in 2013-14, in 2014-15 it was 5.83% and in 2015-16 it was 4.91%. It was 6.16% in 2020-2021. But it was nothing compared to 10%, Sitharaman said.

On Saturday, former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan said, "RBI has done a good job in increasing foreign exchange reserve in India, insulating India from problems being faced by neighbouring countries such as Pakistan and Sri Lanka," said Nirmala Sitharaman in Lok Sabha. Differentiating India from its vulnerable neighbours, Raghuram Rajan further added that "New Delhi is less indebted", calling it a good sign, she informed.

India has sufficient forex reserves. Economic fundamentals are perfect, Nirmala Sitharaman said.

Prices of edible oils have corrected sharply following steps taken by government, the Finance Minister said.

Citing GST and macro data, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the Indian economy is getting more robust. The GST collection and Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) are indicating that the Indian economy is getting more robust. The GST collection rose 28 per cent to touch the second-highest level of Rs 1.49 lakh crore in July. GST, introduced in July 2017, touched a record high of Rs 1.68 lakh crore in April 2022. There is no GST on crematorium, funeral, burial or on mortuary services. They are fully exempt from GST. Standard rates of GST will be imposed on construction that may be carried out for a crematorium. GST compensation to states till May 2022 has been paid, only June month's dues are pending.

This is the sixth time that the monthly GST collection crossed the Rs 1.40-lakh-crore mark since the inception of Goods and Services Tax and the fifth month at a stretch since March 2022, she said.

Gross NPAs of scheduled commercial banks have reached a six-year low of 5.9 per cent, she said, adding that government debt to GDP ratio has come down to 56.29 per cent in FY22.

India's debt to GDP ratio is at 56.21 per cent in FY22, much lower than many nations, the Union Minister said.

No question of India getting into stagflation or recession as macroeconomic fundamentals of the economy are strong, Sitharaman said while replying to opposition's statements that India will also be in a condition being faced by Sri Lanka, Pakistan. She also said that the banking sector in the country is also healthy compared to other countries.

The Finance Minister also informed the Lok Sabha about the steps taken by the government to reduce import/custom duties for various goods, raw materials to help industries, MSMEs.


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