Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be in Varanasi on Tuesday to understand the problems faced by the local industry as well as the taxpayers. She is currently on a multi-city tour to take stock of the health of the economy, which is in the grip of a slowdown and allay fears of “tax terrorism”.
The Finance Minister had on August 15 held a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss the state of the economy. The timing of the meeting suggests an urgency to address the issues affecting the economy.
Various sectors, including automobile and real estate, have been the worst affected in the last few months. While automobile firms have suspended temporarily production as a result of declining vehicle sales, real estate firms also have their inventories piling up.
With so many industries grappling with the slowdown, the government is under pressure for a stimulus package to help various sectors tide over the crisis. The Finance Ministry has held numerous consultations with the trade and industry in the last few weeks.
During her Varanasi trip, Sitharaman will attend programmes on GST, income tax and customs. She will also take feedback from the local industry.
Under her multi-city tour to understand the problems of the industry and the taxpayers, the Finance Minister has already visited Ahmedabad with senior officials of the Finance Ministry and Tax Department. She is expected to visit Kanpur and Guwahati in the coming days.
Sitharaman has also met with senior foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) to understand their problems. A meeting was also held with micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) firms, which have been complaining of a liquidity crunch and slow credit from banks.
Automobile companies have also presented their case for a revival package with many companies demanding reduction in GST from 28 per cent to 18 per cent for boosting consumer sentiment.
“We met the Prime Minister on Thursday and we shall meet again. It is not the right time to talk about any road-map or stimulus package because discussions are still on between the (Finance) Ministry and the PMO. When we are ready to reveal anything, we will do so,” Sitharaman had told reporters last week.