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Industry Should Be Prime Mover For New Sectors, Pay MSMEs On Time: Nirmala Sitharaman

The Finance Minister called for interest in sectors such as second-stage renewables, rare earth materials, and hydrogen.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at a post-budget press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday. (Source: PIB)</p></div>
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at a post-budget press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday. (Source: PIB)

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Indian industries should identify potential sectors for investment and lead the way, rather than wait for the government to offer incentives in that space.

In a post-budget interaction organised by Ficci on Thursday, Sitharaman listened to Indian business representatives' suggestions on budget proposals, ranging from their thoughts on 'ease of doing business' to duty levies.

"The ball is in the industry's court, you hit it and we respond... the industry should look within itself for potential and then come to the government for facilitation," Sitharaman said, as she underscored the role of the government as a business facilitator.

She cited the example of the software industry as reference and said the government was only catching up, much after the industry started developing.

The Finance Minister called for interest in specific sectors such as second-stage renewables, rare earth materials, hydrogen and in converting ammonia to green ammonia.

She also responded to the budget proposal regarding the amendment of Section 43B of the Income Tax Act. The amendment states that the deduction for any payment to MSMEs by the assessee will be allowed only after actual payment beyond the 45-day time limit, which is specified in Section 15 of the MSME Development Act, 2006.

The move is expected to resolve the problem of delayed receipts for MSMEs, who are vulnerable to delayed payment from larger players.

Sitharaman highlighted that the government was merely repeating its intent and the onus of payment lay with the industry, and they should pay deserving MSMEs in a fair manner.

State Capex Loan Utilisation To Pick Up 

The Finance Minister mentioned that the states' pick-up of the 50-year capex-free loan was slow in the current fiscal as proposals had to come in later in the fiscal calendar.

Sitharaman said that she has interacted with the chief secretaries of states this year to ensure the proposals start coming in from April, and the funds are utilised in a substantial and speedy manner.

Budget 2023 increased the one-year capex-loan outlay from Rs 1 lakh crore to Rs 1.3 lakh crore to be utilised within the next fiscal.