The government will frontload investments under its five-year plan to spend Rs 100 lakh crore on infrastructure by announcing investments in 10 projects by December 15, said finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The Centre will also work towards bringing down Goods and Services Tax (GST) to the minimum level on all essential goods and rationalise other rates. However, the finance minister said she will leave the market guessing on the fiscal deficit target for some more time.
Speaking at the ET Awards for Corporate Excellence, Sitharaman said the government had already started working on concerns over the economy based on feedback from the industry even before the growth numbers came in last week. The finance minister did not speak on the likelihood that the government might overshoot its fiscal deficit target because of the lowering of taxes and increased spending. “There are a lot of guesstimates going around, saying the target for the year has already been crossed… What will she be doing? I will allow you to speculate for some more time,” Sitharaman told the gathering of CEOs and businessmen.
However, her cabinet colleague and minister for commerce and industry, and railways, Piyush Goyal pointed out that the fiscal deficit as a percentage of the budgeted amount at the end of October was 102%, which was less than 104% recorded in the same period last year. Among the measures the government was taking was bringing new industries which are moving out of China. She said there was progress on that.