New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a fresh set of measures worth around Rs 60,000 crore to boost exports and Rs 20,000 crore fund for unfinished real estate projects.

Addressing a press conference over ongoing economic crisis for the third time, Sitharaman said a Rs 20,000 crore fund, with the government putting in half of the amount (Rs 10,000 crore) will be set up to provide last mile funding for housing projects which are non-NPA and non-NCLT. The Finance Minister claimed that the stressed asset fund will benefit around 3.5 lakh homebuyers.

The other key measures include extending the scheme of Reimbursement of taxes and Duties for export promotion, a 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).

“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.

Besides, a Rs 1,700 crore annual dole will allow Export Credit Guarantee Corp (ECGC) to offer higher insurance cover to banks lending working capital for exports, she said. This will enable a reduction in the overall cost of export credit including interest rate, especially for MSMEs, she added. Priority sector lending tag for export credit is under consideration of the Reserve Bank, which will release an additional Rs 36,000 crore to Rs 68,000 crore as export credit.

She also announced a mega shopping festival on the likes of the world-famous Dubai Shopping Festival, will be conducted at four places in India in March on themes of gems and jewelry, handicraft/yoga/tourism, textiles, and leather.

The announcements were made 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.

Congress Calls The Economy Booster Measures ‘Cosmetic’

Calling the measures announced by the Finance Minister ‘Cosmetic’,  the Congress party said that the Narendra Modi-led government was ‘clueless’ over the economy which is in shambles. “Sitharamanji just concluded a press conference. It was disappointing looking at India’s economic situation, it was expected that the government would take steps to resuscitate the economy, increase investments, create jobs, and address the issue of exports. But she did not announce any measures that would address the current economic situation. The BJP and its ministers lack a vision to revive the economy”, Congress leader Anand Sharma while addressing a press conference.

He added, “India’s economy is in shambles, we are facing a grave situation but the government with its false promises and its outspoken ministers, is not working towards stopping that”. Furthermore, Sharma asserted that to improve the economy, the investment should come from the government. “But no such announcements were made by the Finance Minister. And till the time public investment is not there economic revival is not possible”, he said.

Piyush Goyal Hails Sitharaman, PM Modi

Union minister Piyush Goyal, on the other hand, lauded PM Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Sitharaman for the announcements to boost exports. He claimed that the measures ‘ wll help make Indian exports competitive and especially benefit MSME exporters with a new scheme’.