Sitharaman spells out measures to boost housing, export sector, says inflation under control

New Delhi, Sep 14 (UNI) Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday announced a host of measures to boost the housing and export sector in the country while asserting that inflation is under control and there is a clear indication of improvement in industrial production. Addressing a press conference here, the Finance Minister said inflation has been kept under 4 per cent. She said revival signs are being seen in industrial production and fixed investment.

The Finance Minister said measures were being taken to improve credit outflows from banks. ”Several NBFCs are benefiting from partial credit guarantee schemes announced earlier,” she said. The Minister said that the transmission of RBI repo rate cuts is being effected by banks. She said, “Measures are being taken to improve credit outflows from banks. Transmission of interest rate cuts are being effected by banks.” ”Between 2018-19, FDI clearly showing sign of revival,” the Minister said.

Announcing new measures to boost Exports, the Minister said scheme for Remission of Duties or Taxes on Export Product (RoDTEP) will replace MEIS scheme. She also announced that textile and other sectors that currently enjoy incentives up to 2 per cent over MEIS will transit to RoDTEP from January 1, 2020.”A New export incentive scheme will replace the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme,” the Finance Minister said.She said other measures, include Merchandise Exports from India Scheme or MEIS scheme, would continue till December 31.

”Up to Rs 50,000 crore will go through the  new RoDTEP scheme or Revenue foregone projected at up to Rs 50,000 crore. Fully electronic refund scheme on input tax for exporters will be in place by end of this month. This is expected to speed up input tax credit refunds for exporters,” the Minister said. “The scope of Export Credit Insurance Scheme (ESIC) by ECGC will be expanded,” she said.

The FM annoucned revised Priority Sector Lending (PSL) norms for Export Credit which she said will release an additional Rs 36,000 crore to Rs 68,000 crore as export credit under priority sector. “Export finance will be actively monitored by an inter-ministerial working group in Dept of Commerce, tracked through a dashboard. Free Trade Agreements or FTA Utilisation Mission, headed by a senior officer in Dept of Commerce, to be set up,” she said.

“Online “Original Managment System” for exporters will enable them to obtain Certificates of Origin will be launched in the next few weeks. This is expected to improve ease of doing business for exporters.  There will be time-bound adoption by industry of all necessary mandatory technical standards,” the Minister said. “Effective enforcement will elevate quality and performance, enhance competitiveness and address issue of sub-standard imports,” she added.

Among other new measures to boost Exports, the Minister annouced about Leverage technology to reduce “Time to Export or Turn-around time”. Technology will be further leveraged by timely completion of ongoing initiatives to further reduce “Time to export” -though seamless process digitization of all export clearances (port/airport/customs, etc) and elimination of offline/manual services An action plan  to reduce Time to export/turn-around time in airports and ports benchmarked to international standards will be implemented by December 2019

Actual turnaround times will be published in real time for each port and airport to push them to improve performance. An Inter-Ministerial Group will be made accountable for this. The Finance Minister said the government will hold annual mega shopping festivals like Dubai Shopping Festival to boost exports. ”Annual mega shopping festivals in India will be organised in four places across March 2020 ,” she said. ”The Government will cut turnaround time in ports, airports via use of technology and will enable handicrafts industry to effectively harness e-commerce for exports,” the Minister said.

She announced a Rs 10,000 crore special window to extend funding to incomplete housing projects. “The objective is to focus on construction of unfinished units. The special window will provide funding to net-worth positive housing projects (non-NPA and non-NCLT projects) in affordable and middle-income category,” the Minister said. ”Further to budget announcements Fiscal Deficit to GDP ratio has been kept up although the Current Account Deficit figures show a bit of a hike,” she said.