From affordable housing to relief for exporters, key takeaways from Nirmala Sitharaman's press conference

  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said inflation is under control and there is a clear sign of revival of industrial production

  • Sitharaman announced Rs 10,000 crore special window to provide last-mile funding for completion of ongoing housing projects which are not NPAs or facing bankruptcy proceedings under NCLT

  • Interest rate on housing building advance will be lowered and linked to the 10-year G-sec yields for government servants

Union Finance Minister announced a slew of measures to boost export growth such as a new automatic refund system from October, RoDTEP scheme on export duties, mega annual shopping festival from March 2020 among others.

Here are the key takeaways:

Rs 10,000 cr special window for completion of ongoing housing projects: Sitharaman announced Rs 10,000 crore special window to provide last-mile funding for the completion of ongoing housing projects which are not NPAs or facing bankruptcy proceedings under NCLT. The government will contribute Rs 10,000 crore for the special window and roughly the same amount is expected from outside investors. This window will help in the completion of affordable and middle-income housing projects. The fund will be managed by professionals, the minister added.

Inflation under control:  Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said inflation is under control and there is a clear sign of revival of industrial production. Addressing the third major press conference to announce measures to boost the economy, the minister said inflation has been kept "very much" below 4 percent. The government has mandated the Reserve Bank of India to keep the retail inflation in the band of 2-6 percent. The latest inflation print based on the Consumer Price Index was 3.21 percent in August. Sitharaman further said that inspite of all worries on industrial production front in the fourth quarter of 2018-19, "We see clear signs" of improvement up to July 2019.

Increased credit flow to NBFCs: The minister further said the steps announced to increase credit flow to NBFCs, including the partial credit guarantee scheme, has started showing results. "Several NBFCs have benefited," the minister said. Sitharaman also informed that she will be meeting heads of public sector banks on 19 September, a day before the GST Council meeting in Goa, to access the credit flow scenario to the economy.

 From affordable housing to relief for exporters, key takeaways from Nirmala Sitharamans press conference

File image of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Reuters.

Revised priority sector lending (PSL) norms for exporters: This will release additional funding of Rs 36,000 crore to Rs 68,000 crore to them, said Sitharaman. PSL norms for export credit have been examined and enabling guidelines are under consideration of the Reserve Bank of India, she said. Export finance will be actively monitored by an inter-ministerial working group in the Department of Commerce.

Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (ECGC) to expand the scope of export credit insurance scheme: The initiative is expected to cost Rs 1,700 crore annually and will enable a reduction in the overall cost of export credit including interest rates, especially to MSMEs. Sitharaman announced that the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Utilisation Mission would be set to help exporters optimally utilise the concessional tariffs under trade pacts which India has signed with several countries. Besides, annual mega shopping festivals will be organised in the country at four places focusing on sectors like handicraft, yoga, tourism, textiles, and leather.

Faceless assessment of Income Tax Returns: Sitharaman said a scheme for faceless assessment of income tax returns has been implemented from Friday. As a result, small or technical errors will not lead to prosecution, she said. A system of electronic numbering of tax department communication has been implemented that will remove discretion at the level of officers, she said.

Boost to govt servants buying homes: The interest rate on housing building advance will be lowered and linked to the 10-year G-sec yields. "Government servants contribute to a major component of demand for houses. This will encourage more government servants to buy new houses," Sitharaman said. External commercial borrowing (ECB) guidelines will also be relaxed to help housing developers obtain overseas funds. ECB guidelines will be relaxed to facilitate financing of homebuyers who are eligible under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, in consultation with the central bank.

--With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Sep 14, 2019 18:12:15 IST