NEW DELHI: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said India is not facing any risk of recession and cited robust GST collections and Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), a measure of trends in manufacturing, to stress that the economy’s fundamentals are strong.
In nearly two-hour long reply to a debate on price rise in Lok Sabha, Sitharaman said the country is doing better than its peers and “there is no question of India getting into recession or stagflation or a technical recession like the US” as she cited reports of some global agencies. The minister said GST collection rose 28% to touch the second-highest level of Rs 1.49 lakh crore in July after a touching a record high of Rs 1.68 lakh crore in April 2022.
Listing out some parameters, the minister said the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio is better than those of many developed nations, including Japan, while gross NPAs of commercial banks reached a six-year low of 5.9%. She said the Purchasing Managers’ Index also touched an eight-month high.
“The pandemic, second wave of Covid, Omicron, Russia-Ukraine (war) — in spite of all this we have held inflation at 7% or below,” she said. In the middle of the FM’s reply, Congress and DMK staged a walkout.
On opposition criticism of increased GST on some essential items, she said it was a unanimous decision of the GST Council comprising state finance ministers as well. Earlier, the opposition blamed the government’s policies for price rise, saying kitchens will soon “see a lockdown” if corrective measures are not taken.
Initiating the debate, Congress member Manish Tewari said the government’s decisions have hit hard 25 crore households in the country. “You have increased GST on flour, curd, paneer, pencil and sharpener. You did not spare even children.”
DMK MP M Kanimozhi said states have been waiting for their GST compensation from the Centre which would enable them to manage their finances better. Sitharaman too switched to Tamil while replying to Kanimozhi’s “passionate speech”. Referring to Kanimozhi’s mention of a letter written by a six-year old girl to PM Modi on costlier pencil and Maggi, the finance minister said the girl has faith in the Prime Minister and that is why she has written to him.