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FM Sitharaman urges govt officials to keep in touch with industry leaders & common people

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GUWAHATI: Clearly upset with the extensive confusion over tax and compliance rules, from GST to income taxes, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman chided government officials for not communicating concerns of industry leaders and common people to her.

Nirmala Sitharaman, at a post-Budget meeting in Guwahati, asked Finance Minister  Himanta Biswa Sarma and other officials to take up the regular inquiry of industrialists and common people on a daily basis.

She directed the setting up of Diwan-e-Aam that could be called in modern-day and asked officials in Guwahati to plan two-hour meetings regularly to hear and clarify people’s queries and concerns.

“I came here to know from you what do you want me to do to improve the sentiment, improve the business confidence, remove criminality. You ask me today I’ll give you heaven but sometimes it may not be possible. It is for you to tell me,” she added.

Expressing gratitude to tax practitioners for the “ground details”, she said that the report of these details should come from the officials themselves.

“I actually want to thank some of the tax practitioners. This is the ground detail that’s coming,” she said. Annoyed by an obvious disconnect between the taxpayers and the officials in the NE region, Finance Minister asked an official present: “Do they contact you? Do they tell you all this? They have been very good to you, they are not telling you anything. They are telling me directly. If you had heard all this you would have said I’m getting all this from the ground,” she said, according to media reports.

Meanwhile, the FM Sitharaman also acknowledged the limitation of her work and said that not everything is solely on her to fulfill.

“Whatever I do from my side it won’t be appealing enough. You tell me, Madam, you do 10 things business confidence will improve. And of the 10, I may do two, three, four, whatever because it’s not singularly me,” she said.

She also said with the ongoing economic slump in the country, the pressure is enormous on the government to encourage demand and boost confidence.

Sitharaman also held an interactive discussion with traders and industry officials where she spoke about giving greater access to credit to self help groups located in remote regions of the northeast.

She also spoke MSMEs and said that MSMEs can approach public sector banks for restructuring before 31st December 2020.

Bankers have been instructed to provide adequate ATMs in 17 districts of the state to cater to the tea garden areas as per mapping by State Govt., she said.


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