Anti-CAA stir, Delhi violence have not dampened investor sentiment: FM Nirmala Sitharaman


New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks during 6th World Congress on Rural and Agricultural Finance, in New Delhi, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks during 6th World Congress on Rural and Agricultural Finance, in New Delhi, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. (PTI Photo)

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday asserted that the anti-CAA protests and the recent violence in Delhi have not dampened the spirit of investors.

Addressing a press conference here after meeting various shareholders post the Union Budget, Nirmala Sitharaman said investors whom she met in her recent visit to Saudi Arabia expressed willingness to invest more in India.

“I met several investors both Saudi and Indian investors there. No one showed any concern. On the contrary, they were willing to invest more in India,” she said.

Nirmala Sitharaman claimed that the companies also explored possibilities for opening representative offices in India, reflecting their willingness to invest more.

“Lots of interest were shown on various projects,” the finance minister said.

Asked specifically about protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or the recent violence in Delhi, Nirmala Sitharaman said, “The sentiment of foreign investors has not dampened at all.”

On the possible impact of coronavirus scare on the industry and the economy, she said there is none as of now.

“I have met 20-23 industries and they did not express any anxiety about raw material supply. However, if the situation does not improve in the next two months, there might have been problems of raw material shortage, which we are trying to see how best we can help them out,” she added.

On the slowdown of the economy, Nirmala Sitharaman said the mood is gradually changing and positive signs are seen due to continuous efforts by the government and the RBI together.

“There are green shoots visible. Many of them sustained, while some were revived. Our foreign exchange is at good condition. Though climatic conditions affected onion prices, now it is stable and we lifted the ban on exports.

“RBI announced stimulus package for growth of MSME and real estate. Lending to banks has been made at a lesser rate,” she added.

On the AGR dues by telecom operators, the minister said, “The department concerned is working on it after having met with the industries. Whatever is the decision of the government, they will be announced when they are ready.”

Nirmala Sitharaman, who met the bankers in her day-long trip to Guwahati, said lenders have been asked to work on financial inclusions in the North East and be “a lot more agile”.

“I specifically instructed them to reach out to the tea garden workers. Asked them to sort out the difficulties and challenges in including them in the banking net,” she said.

The finance minister said banks have been directed to activate all frozen accounts of the tea garden workers and make them DBT compliant by March 15.

“We also asked the lenders to install ATMs within 40 days in all the locations of the 17 districts after the state government gives the list of places. The state has already spoken to service providers for network and there is no issue,” she added.

Where installing an ATM is not possible, the number of ‘Bank Mitras’ should be increased there, she said.

Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said eight lakh bank accounts were opened for tea garden workers after demonetisation, but 30 per cent of them are not functional due to KYC related issues.