Former union minister and chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on finance, Jayant Sinha said in an interview that the priority of the Narendra Modi government is to strengthen India and to make it resilient.

The economic package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the measures announced by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman are aimed at making India a competitive nation that will also be an attractive investment destination, he added. Edited excerpts

Small enterprises which employ around 110 million people had a long list of demands. With the six measures that have been announced for them today, has the government addressed those concerns?

The Prime Minister has been very clear that the idea of a resilient India is driving the policy package that is being laid out . As the finance minister explained carefully today, there already have been several tranches, which have dealt with a number of most urgent issues that had to be addressed. We have provided food, gas cylinders, cash support for the most vulnerable sections of society. Now, what we also had to do is to address the requirements of the MSME sector and many representations were received from MSMEs, laying out all the challenges that they were facing both in terms very low demand for their services and products as well as all of the cash pressures that they are facing right now.

What the finance minister has done today has squarely addressed all of the urgent concerns raised by the MSME sector.

Will going local be a priority for the government?

The priority for the government is to strengthen India and to make it resilient. We want to first make India a very competitive nation so that our local companies, products and services are purchased by the domestic consumers as well as enthusiastically by consumers around the world. One aspect of being resilient is that our local companies are as competitive as possible. The other part of becoming competitive is to be able to attract global companies to invest in India and to build products and services here. So global and local are two sides of the same coin. Our local companies must become stronger and more global and Indian must become more attractive and a better platform for global companies; and doing so is going to make India more resilient and more self reliant.

A lot of people equate going local with protectionism, which in turn is limiting. There has also been some criticism of efforts by some states to amend labour laws.

The Prime Minister was very clear on Tuesday and said that India must contribute to global growth, provide support and be very much a part of the global supply chains. He was crystal clear in that regard and that is why I said we have to strengthen our local companies and be an attractive investment destination for global companies.

To that end there many aspects of production that we have to address; labour being one of them. The Prime Minister also said that we have to address all factors of production, whether it is land, labour, liquidity as well as laws so that we are globally competitive for both local companies as well as global who want to be stay production units in India.

The Congress says there is nothing for the poor, hungry, workers walking home? That there are no cash transfers.

We are running many Shramik specials (trains) and many state government have also made arrangements for buses so that people who want to move from the cities back to the rural areas can do so. All provisions are being made for people to travel; and then in the rural areas tremendous amount to support has been provided. About 800 million families have got double the ration, 80 million people have got gas cylinders, we have provided 30 million senior citizens, widows and disabled people with a thousand rupees in their accounts; some 200 million women Jan Dhan account holders have got Rs.500 per month. Then additionally we will support MSMEs, ensure that informal workers in the city are able to continue working and get their salaries. So their need to go back to their homes will be reduced because their employers are going to be supported by the MSME package.

There is also a demand that the union government should borrow more and spend more; and allow states to do so too.

That is already what we are doing; the government has announced that instead of Rs 7.8 lakh crore borrowing they are going to do Rs 12 lakh crore borrowing. For MSMES we are saying that they will be able to automatically borrow more money that will be hundred percent guaranteed by the government, similarly NBFCs are going to be able to borrow more. The states have got relief through the ways and means account so they can also borrow more. At every step along the way we are providing financial support to every section of society, to all the different governments and many more announcements are to come.

Former finance minister P Chidambaram said the PM's announcement was intended to grab headlines, but that the page is however, blank.

The page is being filled out day by day with very substantial details. Today's announcements will continue and there is a very comprehensive detailed document that is being prepared which will be circulated with all the necessary details about Atmanirbhar Bharat.

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