Trying our best to improve economy: Nirmala Sitharaman

Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman thinks that on the basis of available resources, the government is making best efforts to revive major sectors of the economy, especially the manufacturing sector.

In an exclusive interview to Amish Devgan of Zee Media Corp, Nirmala Sitharaman, after assuming charge as the Commerce and Industry Minister, talked about boosting India`s growth, combating inflation and much more.


Modi has time and again stressed on good governance and has assured the nation of "good days ahead". How is this going to be implemented?

I would like to mention that issues in the budget are prerogative of the Finance Minister and I can`t dwell into the details at this point in time. After the new government has taken over, we have been working day-in-and day-out and every ministry under the aegis of Narendra Modi is trying churning out its best possible results. We are trying our best to improve the economic situation of the country.

Many senior BJP leaders have time and again spoken about white papers on economic conditions. Now, since you are a part of the government, will you reveal white papers on the economic condition of the nation during the reign of the previous government?

I don`t think that it is important for us to take out white papers of the previous government, at this point in time. In the economic survey, that we are going to release prior to the budget, we shall have all the clarifications regarding the economic conditions.

BJP says that we have inherited only worst economic conditions from the Congress government. PM Modi has talked about the `bitter pill` as a remedy. What effect is this `bitter pill` , as a remedy to improve the economic conditions going to have on the common man?

On the basis of available resources, we are making our best efforts. Our focus shall be on reviving the major sectors of economy, especially the manufacturing sector.

You have always been raising the issue of inflation, even when you were not in power. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has asserted that some strict measures are immediately required to bail out the economy. He has also pointed out that inflation has been due to hoarding. However, opposition and especially that Left says that stations have not changed only the face of the minister has changed. How would you react to this statement.

I do not agree with this statement. The recent inflation indicators are for the month of May. Now, we are in the month of June. The first and foremost measure that we have taken is De-listing, which means that the farmer will now be able to go anywhere and get the best price for its produce. He is not only bound to sell his produce through APMC. Additionally, we are planning to flood the market with crucial commodities like rice, onion and potato so that the prices can go down and be controlled in the short-term.

How will you seek a balance between inflation and growth?

It is not just a single factor that decides the growth of the economy. Manufacturing, agriculture and several other factors are together responsible. The farmer must get immediate relief. An important point that I would like to make here is that even if the percentage of growth rises to 10 and there is no employment , then the figure are a complete waste. NSSO data reveals all the facts through the numbers.

Elections are just around the corner in some of the politically crucial Indian states. Issues like employment generation, inflation controlling black-marketeers are hence politically too vital for your party. Finance Minister had earlier said that hoarding is flourishing in some of the states. At the outset, it appears as if the centre is trying to shift the blame on to the states.

I disagree. We are not shifting our responsibility to the states. However, there are certain pre-defined division of the states for which only the state government is responsible, for instance, controlling hoarders and black-marketeers. We are working in tandem with the state governments. We are not saying that it is only the state government`s responsibility to keep a tab on hoarders and black-marketeers; we are insisting on the joint ownership of the matter.

Elections are a separate matter altogether, our first and foremost concern is to provide immediate relief to the common man. Whether or not these steps benefit us during the elections thereafter is a secondary matter for us.

Tough challenges lie ahead for Modi government. It is a triple attack, `Inflation, weak monsoon and Iraq terror`. Crude prices are going up. As a commerce minister how much does this concern you?

It is certainly worrying for me. We are monitoring the situation and will take control of it soon.

Narendra Modi had earlier raised issues regarding gold import. With restrictions on import of gold, the nation has witnessed decline in the quantity of gold indeed and to a great extent , CAD has benefitted from it. Now, importers and gold traders would like to know your stand

Due to the existing gold import policy, jewelery and gems export sector has been badly impacted. We have received several recommendations to review the gold import policy. Whether the import duty will be reduced, shall be soon announced in the budget and we are reviewing the matter on priority basis.

Zee Business had unearthed the Hawala scam. Even PM Modi had made a mention of it that the perpetrators must be held. We had revealed to the nation that few leaders from UPA government and one leader close to 10 Janpat was involved. What is your government`s stand on this matter?

Within one week of taking over as the government, we had constituted the Special Investigation Team. That was our first step as soon as we took over. We are clear on the issue of black money are not going to leave the perpetrators of the crime those who have sent money out of the nation through illegal activities.

There have been differences regarding implementation of GST. Now, your government is in power. How are you planning to put this through?

We are going through a complete exercise and are trying to work on the differences of opinion with the opposition. We are quite clear that we have to get it rolling soon. We are in the process of consulting state ministries. Indeed, there are going to be some legislative and constitutional amendments involved in the same.

FDI in multi-brand retail was opposed by the BJP, even when your party was not in power . will you change your stand, now that you hold the chair?

We believe this is not the right time for FDI in multi-brand retail to be implemented and our stand on this matter has been consistent with the statements that were mentioned in our manifesto.

Being a Corporate affairs minister, what is your reaction on Chit-fund scams that have mushroomed recently as lot of small investors lose their life-long savings in such scams?

We are waiting for the investigations both from the state and the governments at the centre. We do understand that there are serious implications of such matters and lot of small investors lose their life - long savings. We will try hard to provide immediate relief to small investors.

NSEL Scam was close to 5000 crore. Jignesh Shah has been jailed and nothing has been done to the borrowers.

I have been flushed with appeals from the victims through social media. We are taking it very seriously and I have presented it before the finance minister. Once, the budget preparations get over, we are definitely going to take strict measures to rectify the situation.

What is your reaction on corporate loans defaulters?I can`t keep on making promises on every matter at this point, because we are involved in lot of crucial matters related to economy. But, after the completion of our budgetary exercise, we will definitely look into the matter.