Govt mulling giving cheap loans to more sectors: Sharma

Govt mulling giving cheap loans to more sectors: Sharma New Delhi: The government is considering providing cheap loans to some more stressed sectors other than SMEs to provide them a cushion against the global economic slowdown.

"We have got interest subvention for the entire SME sector. We may actually add more to that basket, we are seriously considering," Commerce and industry Minister Anand Sharma told reporters Tuesday.

The Minister said he has discussed the matter with the Finance Minister.

"We will take as a governmental view without waiting for the RBI, respecting their autonomy and their freedom to take the decisions," he said.

He also said the government would shortly announce incentives for export sectors which are facing the heat of global demand slowdown.

During the April-November this fiscal, the country's shipments have shrunk by 5.95 percent to USD 189.2 billion.

In June as part of a package for exporters, the government has extended the interest subsidy scheme by one year till March 31, 2013.

"We have looked at the sectors which are weak. Also, the regions where demand has been contracted and whatever is possible given the constraints of resources we are seriously considering and we shall take a final view very shortly," he said.

When asked whether the delay in the announcement is because of Gujarat elections, he said: "Its nothing to do with elections, its an ongoing thing".

"We have to do everything which is within our reach to push our exports and to keep trade account deficit within manageable limits. There has been a contraction, we are short of target," he added

On the RBI policy, Sharma said: "As a Commerce and Industry Minister, I feel that there has to be a special dispensation, when it comes to the availability of the credit, the rate of credit also, so that our industry and the manufacturing remains competitive."

The Reserve Bank today kept the key interest rates unchanged but hinted easing of rates in January saying with decline in inflation, the focus of monetary policy would shift to removing impediments to growth.

Sharma said the government was hoping that after announcements of some major decisions to boost the investors' morale and confidence, RBI would be less conservative.

"Unfortunately, for the industrial investors, they (the RBI) feel that despite the inflation coming down, they still have to maintain the rates which they in their view have fixed," he added.

"I will still urge upon the RBI to kindly look seriously at the need of capital formation, job creation and more investments," Sharma said.

PTI