NEW DELHI: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday defended the government's decision to ban the export of certain products such as onions, arguing that it was essential to protect the interests of domestic consumers, while asserting that the economy I was on the right path.
“We have given priority to balancing the interests of farmers and consumers. Often there is a situation where prices rise, it is necessary to eliminate restrictions on the size of supply and increase purchases, for the good of the consumer. Even during this period , we are equally aware that the price at which we purchase from farmers is appropriate,” she said, responding to the debate on seeking additional subsidies inLok Sabha. The subsidy requirement was approved by the Chamber of Deputies.
The statement comes days after the government imposed a ban on onion exports, an issue that was flagged by NCP leaders in Lok Sabha amid protests by a powerful group of traders in Nashik. The move came amid rising prices for politically sensitive staple foods. Sitharaman said that over the years the government has increased the allocation for agriculture and also stepped up procurement.
The FM also said that India remains the fastest growing major economy. “Our economy is moving in the right direction… Macroeconomic fundamentals are good. We have become the fastest growing economy. The 7.6% growth in the second quarter is the highest in the world,” she said. Sitharaman said fiscal prudence is a key priority for the government without compromising social welfare.
She also dismissed complaints from opposition MPs that the Center was delaying the release of funds, saying there was a system in place, which was linked to utilization certificates and the state's deposit of its share in the case of centrally sponsored schemes.
Separately, in Rajya Sabha, the minister refuted allegations that states' GST rates were pending with the Centre, dismissing it as a misnomer. She said some state governments had not submitted authenticated certificates from the accountant general for release of their share of funds.
Sitharaman said she would specifically name some states so that there would be no doubt in people's minds. She said Goa has not submitted AG certificate for FY 2017-18, FY 2018-19 and FY 2019-20. It has also not yet submitted the report for the fiscal year 2021-22 and the first quarter of the fiscal year 2022-23. “For 2022-23, no state except Karnataka has issued the AG certificate yet,” she said.



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