New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday announced a slew of measures to fuel India’s economic growth. Ranging from holding mega shopping festivals to enabling the handicrafts industry to effectively harness e-commerce for exports, the Finance Minister made a range of announcements to arrest the country’s slowdown.

“Mega shopping festival will be held across the country in four destinations, by March 2020. It is a greater push for people to make contacts and connections,” said Sitharaman while addressing a press conference at National Media Centre here.

Sitharaman also announced to reduce turnaround time for exports by leveraging technology and benchmarking it to Boston and Shanghai ports.

The other key measures include extending the scheme of Reimbursement of taxes and Duties for export promotion, fully automated electronic refund for Input Tax Credits (ITC) in GST, revised priority sector lending norms for exports and expanding the scope of Export Credit Insurance Scheme (ECIS).

An inter-ministerial working group has also been formed to monitor export finance.

“The scheme of Remission of Duties or Taxes on Export Products (RoDTEP) is a new scheme, it shall completely replace all Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) from January 1, 2020”, said the Union Minister, adding the revenue foregone towards the scheme is projected at Rs 50,000 crore.

The announcement comes in the backdrop of India’s merchandise exports declining by 6.05 per cent to USD 26.13 billion in August compared to the year-ago month.

The FM also said there will be a fully automated electronic refund route for input tax credits (ITC) in GST. This will be implemented by the month-end. The move, she stated, is aimed at quick and automated refunds of ITC.

To prop up the country’s housing sector which is considered one of the main job creators, Sitharaman came out with several measures. Now, there would be relaxed ECB norms for the housing sector. Further, interest on house building advance would be lowered by linking it with 10-year government securities.

She also announced the creation of a special window of Rs 10,000 crore fund to provide last mile funding for housing projects which are non-NPA and non-NCLT. “For this, a fund of Rs 10,000 crore would be contributed by the government and “roughly the same size by outside investors,” said the Finance Minister.