India committed to attracting big companies, says Nirmala after Musk postpones visit

The government will attract investors and manufacturers through attractive policies, she says

April 20, 2024 10:56 pm | Updated 11:22 pm IST - AHMEDABAD

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman interacts with the media in Ahmedabad on April 20, 2024.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman interacts with the media in Ahmedabad on April 20, 2024. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Barely hours after the U.S. billionaire Elon Musk announced on his social media platform X that he would be postponing his visit to India — scheduled for April 21-22 — to “later this year” owing to “Tesla obligations”, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that India was committed to making policies to attract big companies for investment in the wake of growing concerns around China.

“Policies have been made to attract investments. We want manufacturers and investors to come and produce not just for India but also for exports. We will try to attract manufacturers and investors through policies,” she said while responding to a query about Mr. Musk’s visit.

“When big companies show interest to come to India, we will do everything to make it attractive for them to come and invest. In that process, if there is anything to discuss, we will certainly discuss. But whatever we have done, we have done it through policy,” she added.

In her media interaction, she said that after significant efforts, India had become the world’s fifth-largest economy, and the country was confidently aiming to secure the third position within the next two to two-and-a-half years.

‘Fastest-growing economy’

At the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industries (GCCI), interacting with businessmen and entrepreneurs, she said that the Harvard Business School must study how India, since 2014, restored its economy and went from being among the “fragile five” to the “world’s fastest-growing economy” within a decade.

“The way we have strengthened and safeguarded our banks post-2014 is a lesson for Harvard Business School,” she said.

“Post pandemic, banks like Silicon Valley Bank, which was widely trusted by startups, collapsed and nobody knew about it,” she added.

She also highlighted how the public sector banks effectively managed mergers and ensured stability amid challenging circumstances and credited reforms initiated by the government since 2014 for this success.

According to her, in 2014, the balance sheets of the banks were burdened with non-performing assets (NPAs) and industries were struggling to repay the loans but thanks to the measures taken by the government, the banks were in much better health and industries have also recovered now.

On inflation and unemployment

To a query about inflation, she said the inflation never crossed the tolerance band, except for one month, under the Narendra Modi government; however, during the UPA government, inflation had been consistently in the double digits for as many as 22 months and the economy was in a bad shape.

On rising unemployment, the Minister said there was a lack of complete data from both the formal and informal sectors and therefore, the claims about rising unemployment were inaccurate. She asserted that initiatives of the Centre had ensured jobs to lakhs of people.

“The data is inadequate. I am not saying this with pride but while accepting its weakness. All I can say regarding employment is that the money given to people and startups through different schemes...people in crores have availed support. Between October 2022 and November 2023, through the Rozgar Mela, the Modi government has given government jobs to 10 lakh people,” she said.

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