EGoM taking steps to cool down prices of essential commodities, Ms. Sitharaman tells LS
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday informed the Lok Sabha that banks have recovered ₹13,109.17 crore by selling the assets of fugitives like Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.
The Minister’s comments came during her reply to a discussion on the second batch of Supplementary Demands for Grants which was passed by the Lok Sabha by a voice vote.
The discussion on the Supplementary Demands for Grants, authorising the government to spend an additional ₹3.73 lakh crore during the current fiscal, concluded last week.
Talking about the recovery of ₹13,109.17 crore from the sale of assets of wilful defaulters, who have now fled the country, the Finance Minister said ₹792 crore were earned from the sale of assets belonging to Mr. Mallya and others on July 16, 2021.
“Public sector banks together have effected a recovery of about ₹5.49 lakh crore over the last seven financial years. So, these people who are defaulters, who have fled the country, we have got their money back and put it to the public sector banks and therefore the banks are safer today,” she said, adding that depositors’ money was safe in public sector banks.
Responding to various issues including price rise, earlier raised by the Opposition members, the Finance Minister assured that steps are being taken to cool down prices of edible oil and other essential commodities.
“We are taking measures through the EGoM (Empowered Group of Ministers) for taking care of essential goods. We will attend to the problem of edible oil price and also some of the essential edible items,” she said.
Cash for States
The Finance Minister said the Centre in the first eight months of the fiscal has already transferred 86.4% of what was provided in the full year 2019-20. From the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF), funds are being provided and providing an extra ₹15,000 crore for emergency COVID-19 response.
“The financial position of the States is also reflected in the fact that the overall cash balance of States as on November 30, 2021 was ₹3.08 lakh crore approximately, fairly comfortable positions,” she said.
Out of 28 States, she said, only two States have a negative cash balance.
Talking about the additional expenditure of ₹3.73 lakh crore, she said, ₹2.99 lakh crore is the additional cash outgo because of big ticket expenditure going for Air India and rise in fertiliser subsidy due to increase in international prices.
“We have to ensure that the farmers don’t suffer because of it (rise in global prices). And therefore, increase in the subsidy for fertiliser has been provided, which itself is accounting for ₹58,431 crore,” she said.
Ms. Sitharaman also mentioned that the Centre had so far paid ₹93,685 crore on oil bonds since 2014 and the government will have to pay till 2026 when the bonds matures.
Quoting former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, the Minister said, “I would like the nation to remember that issuing bonds and loading deficits on oil companies is not a permanent solution to this problem. We are only passing our burden to our children who will have to repay this debt.”
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