All sectors doing well, Made-in-India products in American supermarkets: Sitharaman in RS

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Painting a rosy picture of the economy and stating that Indian economy remains the fastest-growing economy in the world, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said that all sectors of the economy are performing well.

“India’s second quarter (July-September quarter of FY24) economic growth (of 7.6%) has been the highest in the world. We have continuously maintained the momentum of being the fastest-growing economy in the world.

During the same quarter (Q2FY24) the third and the fourth largest economies of the world contracted. Germany contracted by 0.4% and Japan contracted by 2.1%,” Sitharaman said while replying to a short discussion in Rajya Sabha on economic situation in the country.

“Even emerging economies like Vietnam grew by 5.33%, Malaysia by 3.3% and Thailand by just about 1.5% (during Q2). So, when you compare all these developments around the world and for India to have reached 7.6% in second quarter is a very significant number,” she further said.

Sitharaman countered the criticism of the opposition members and suggested that India has maintained growth momentum even as many major economies have struggled in the post-pandemic times which have been marred by geo-political conflicts and faltering demand.

The short-duration discussion in the Upper House saw as many as 60 MPs speaking on various aspects of economy especially price rise, jobs and household savings.

While the members of the ruling party highlighted the achievements of the government, opposition members tried to corner it on various issues.

The Finance Minister said that not only services but manufacturing sector is also significantly contributing to the economy. She cited a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) report and said that Made-In-India products are now seen in American supermarkets.

“As per BCG report, Made-in-India products are now increasingly seen in the shelves of American supermarkets. While US goods imports from China have declined by 10% from 2018 to 2022, they rose by 44% from India during 2018 to 2022,” she said attributing the success to the government’s Make-in-India initiative and PLI scheme.

Sitharaman noted that for 29 consecutive months, India’s manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) has been in expansionary territory. She also stated that E-way bills generation, indicative of economy being in positive territory, hit record and reached 10 crore in October this year surpassing previous record.

The Minister also took jibe at the previous UPA government and said that ‘Naam ke Vaaste’ (just for the sake of name) schemes of the previous government are now meaningful and reaching to the right people.

She went on highlighting the various milestones achieved under central schemes.

The Minister countered senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram over unemployment and said that worker population ratio has been on the rise.

“Incorrect it was for him (Chidambaram) to suggest that worker population ratio has not improved. ….As per the PLFS (Periodic Labour Force Survey), the worker population ratio, that is the share of employed in the total population, has increased to 56% in 2022-23 from 46.8% in 2017-18. ….So, there is an increase in worker population ratio and this is government’s data,” she said.

The Finance Minister also said that youth unemployment rate has declined to 10% in 2022-23 from 17.8% in 2017-18 and there had been self-employment.

She said that various schemes like MUDRA and PM SVANidhi are promoting self-employment particularly among the lower section of society.

Participating in the debate on Tuesday, Chidambaram had said that the ‘scintillating’ growth in the country was not reflecting on the ground taking a swipe at the Modi government.

“We are a large economy; we are growing at the fastest rate in the world; we are innovative; we have the largest FDI coming into the country. But why is it not seen on the ground? .. Why is it not seen in the inflation numbers and the unemployment numbers?” he had said.

The Union Finance Minister stated that fundamentals of the economy remain strong and the same was reflecting in high economic growth, foreign investment and stable currency among others.

On some Opposition members raising concern over low households savings, the Minister said that households savings had been going towards asset creation. She also highlighted that people are making incremental purchases and investing in mutual funds and equity markets.

Sitharaman also defended the government’s inflation management and said that suitable measures had been taken to ensure sufficient availability of food items by tweaking trade policy.

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