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FM Nirmala Sitharaman ‘Happy’ That GDP Growth Rate Has Steadied, Says Didn’t Want a Shocker

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks at the India Business Leader Awards. (Image: Twitter/@CNBCTV18News)

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks at the India Business Leader Awards. (Image: Twitter/@CNBCTV18News)

Responding to the GDP numbers released earlier today, the finance minister said 'if the ship is steady and moving forward, then you are doing well'.

Mumbai: Expressing quiet confidence that India’s GDP growth will see an uptick soon, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said the economy appears to have steadied.

Speaking at CNBC-TV18's Indian Business Leader Awards (IBLA) in Mumbai soon after the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) numbers were released, Sitharaman said she didn’t want a surprising figure from the National Statistical Office (NSO).

"(I) didn’t want a surprise or shocker of a number either way… shocker going to 6% or coming down and to that extent I’m happy. Not to say I’m happy with this number, but that happy that we have steadied,” she told CNBC-TV18’s Shereen Bhan.

The GDP growth for the third quarter of FY20 stood at 4.7%, a marginal increase of 0.2% from the six-year low registered in the previous quarter. But the rate has slowed from the 5.6% growth registered in the corresponding quarter of 2018-19.

Sitharaman said, "if the ship is steady and moving forward, then you are doing well”.

“Doing well in these circumstances is doing all right and from now you can move forward with more confidence,” she said.

Addressing the awards function, Sitharaman also spoke about the need for a drastic improvement in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime and said she has already floated an idea to cut down on GST Council meetings from every three months to once a year.

Sitharaman said the government is "pushing the banks like never before" to lend as much as possible across all categories, including retail, home and agriculture segments.

She, however, said the government wants to learn from the experiences of the 2008-09 and ensure there are no non-performing assets piled up for later years.

Sitharaman said the government is working to create a development finance institution (DFI), as were bodies like ICICI and IDBI before they turned into full-fledged banks.

She said the ministry has managed to do whatever it can for the economy within the space offered by keeping the fiscal deficit under check, adding it is not "closing options" on the same.