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Indian Government announces measures for stimulating the economy


December 07, 2008:

4. Housing

Housing is a potentially very important source of employment and demand for critical sectors and there is a large unmet need for housing in the country, especially for middle and low income groups. The Reserve Bank has announced that it will shortly put in place a refinance facility of Rs.4000 crore for the National Housing Bank. In addition, one of the areas where plan expenditure can be increased relatively easily is the Indira Awas Yojana. As a further measure of support for this sector public sector banks will shortly announce a package for borrowers of home loans in two categories: (1) upto Rs.5 lakhs and (2) Rs 5 lakh-Rs 20 lakh. This sector will be kept under a close watch and additional measures would be taken as necessary to promote an accelerated growth trajectory.

5. MSME Sector

The Government attaches the highest priority to supporting the medium, small and micro enterprises (MSMEs) sector which is critical for employment generation. To facilitate the flow of credit to MSMEs, RBI has announced a refinance facility of Rs.7000 crore for SIDBI which will be available to support incremental lending, either directly to MSMEs or indirectly via banks, NBFCs and SFCs. In addition, the following steps are being taken.

(a) To boost collateral free lending, the current guarantee cover under Credit Guarantee Scheme for Micro and Small enterprises on loans will be extended from Rs.50 lakh to Rs.1 crore with guarantee cover of 50 percent.

(b) The lock in period for loans covered under the existing credit guarantee scheme will be reduced from 24 to 18 months, to encourage banks to cover more loans under the guarantee scheme.

(c) Government will issue an advisory to Central Public Sector Enterprises and request State Public Sector Enterprises to ensure prompt payment of bills of MSMEs. Easing of credit conditions generally should help PSUs to make such payments on schedule.

6. Textiles

(a) An additional allocation of Rs.1400 crore will be made to clear the entire backlog in TUF Scheme.

(b) All items of handicrafts will be included under 'Vishesh Krishi & Gram Udyog Yojana'.

7. Infrastructure Financing

A large number of infrastructure projects are now being cleared for implementation in the Public Private Partnership mode. These projects may experience difficulty in reaching financial closure given the current uncertainties in the financial world. In order to support financing of such projects, Government has decided to authorise the India Infrastructure Finance Company Limited (IIFCL) to raise Rs.10,000 crore through tax-free bonds by 31/3/2009. These funds will be used by IIFCL to refinance bank lending of longer maturity to eligible infrastructure projects, particularly in highways and port sectors. In this way it is expected that IIFCL resources used for refinance can leverage bank financing of double the amount. Depending on need, IIFCL will be permitted to raise further resources by issue of such bonds. In particular, these initiatives will support a PPP programme of Rs.100,000 crore in the highways sector.

8. Others

(a) Government departments will be allowed to take up replacement of government vehicles within the allowed budget, in relaxation of extant economy instructions.

(b) Import Duty on Naphtha for use in the power sector will be eliminated.

(c) Export duty on iron ore fines will be eliminated and on lumps will be reduced to 5%.

The Government is keeping a close watch on the evolving economic situation and will not hesitate to take any additional steps that may be needed to counter recessionary trends and maintain the pace of economic activity.

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