Govt focusing on infra, investment, innovation, inclusiveness: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

Govt focusing on infra, investment, innovation, inclusiveness: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

During an event organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on Saturday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that in order to make India a developed nation by 2047, the government is now focusing on four things—infrastructure, investment, innovation, and inclusiveness. India has the necessary wherewithal to meet the goal set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she added.

“We are looking at infrastructure in a very big way. In the last three to five years, consistently, the public expenditure for infrastructure building has been ramped up significantly and it will reach Rs 10 lakh crore in 2023-24,” she said.

With infrastructure, the FM meant not just bridges, roads, ports or airports, but also the creation of digital infrastructure will be given importance. Secondly, she added that emphasis on investment will promote greater participation of both the public and private sectors.

“We are looking for both public investment and private investment and creating the necessary environment. And the global discussions which are going on blended finance is also something which we’re looking at,” she said. The FM further added that India’s young and vibrant population, and the emphasis on skilling them to suit the requirement of the economy, would yield dividends.

Thirdly, “The government has opened up several areas inclusive of the space, nuclear energy, and looking at getting out of fossil fuels. We have enough reasons to believe the youth today are giving us solutions, which are very good for the frontier technologies that we’re talking about, as much as for the legacy issues which persist in India for which we need solutions,” she added.

Fourthly, “By focussing on inclusiveness, we have to make sure that every section of India—the common man—is benefitted by everything that we do (whether) investment or reforms are trying to take schemes to the people,” the FM said.

Talking about India’s contribution to the G20 during its presidency, she said the grouping is working on contemporary issues like dealing with post-pandemic challenges and revival plans. The first agenda will be to figure out how Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) become nimble and address the 21st-century challenges, and their capacity to generate and bring in more resources, from the market and private sector, to address the current challenges expeditiously.

The other issues under India’s presidency are and debt-related distress. In this regard, a speedier and more comprehensive approach is required whether it comes under a common framework or outside, she said. Citing the example of Sri Lanka’s distress, the FM said it required a quick redressal although outside of the framework since it’s a middle-income country.

Next, she spoke about cryptocurrencies or crypto assets, that are outside the Central Bank domain. The FM said that a collective solution or mechanism through which it can be regulated is required. “India did not rush into coming up with regulation but we are looking at it because it’s so technology-driven. We think it is possible only when all countries can take a common approach. Each one can legislate upon them the way they want later within their country. There has to be a common approach in it getting some regulatory framework in place,” the FM said.

Next, in regard to digital public infrastructure, India has been continuously bringing in newer building blocks. The minister said that the India stack is not just growing vertically but is also now spreading across health, education, and climate management.

Another continuing agenda is ‘Cities for Tomorrow’, the FM said, adding, Japan in 2019 presidency talked about resilient infrastructure for future cities and expect constructive cooperation from the G7. She added that G20 is now awaiting Volume 2 of Expert Group on strengthening MDBs, which is going to give the roadmap without doing away with the emphasis on poverty alleviation and shared prosperity. The first volume, which was submitted at the third Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting last month, focuses on the broadening of vision, financial capacity and modalities of funding of the MDBs.

Edited by Kanishk Singh