Nirmala Sitharaman Press Conference LIVE Updates: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today said that Rs 1 lakh crore fund will be created for agriculture infrastructure projects. She is addressing the third of a series of press conferences meant to outline India's efforts to reboot its economy that has been hit hard due to the coronavirus pandemic. Sources said that new rules for agriculture marketing could be announced today.
Sitharaman has so far shared details of measures for small businesses, discoms, NBFCs and migrant workers. Today's press conference is likely to focus on the agriculture and fisheries sector, sources have said.
On Thursday, she had announced the launch of ‘one nation one ration card’ scheme and said the Centre will also provide free food grains to those migrants who have no ration cards for the next two months as part of the second tranche of her economic package.
The government has been facing criticism for its handling of the migrant crisis as lakhs still continue to walk back hundreds of kilometres to their home states as their income dried up because of the lockdown.
"There is a legitimate concern about migrants returning to their home states. We are attending to migrants, we are not boasting," the minister said.
Experts have said that while the announcement of free grains is a positive step, two months of support is inadequate. They also questioned why there is no cash component in the package.
The minister had also announced Rs 30,000 crore as emergency funding credit for farmers through NABARD and Rs 2 lakh concessional credit for Kisan credit card holders.
Although the Prime Minister had pegged the overall package at Rs 20 lakh crore, or 10 per cent of India’s GDP, the finance minister had on Wednesday avoided giving any details as to how the stimulus would be paid for, or even how much actual money would be spent.
India Ratings & Research said on Friday that there is very limited space for fiscal stimulus as the government's revised market borrowing of Rs 12 lakh crore is expected to be used largely for meeting revenue shortfall.
According to India Ratings chief economist Devendra Kumar Pant, the enhanced gross borrowings of Rs 12 lakh crore will largely take care of the revenue shortfall, leaving little space for fiscal stimulus, "unless the Centre sharply cuts the budgeted capex and reprioritises expenditure".
"This leaves very limited fiscal space for the government as the revenue shortfall accounts for as much as 95.1 per cent of the increased borrowings, leaving as little as Rs 20,000 crore for the government to provide fiscal stimulus," India Ratings & Research said.