Budget 2020: Greater allocation for infrastructure could spur employment growth, says IBA

The Union government on Monday announced a slew of measures to protect commercial decisions taken by banks. Ahead of the 2020 Union budget announcement, Sunil Mehta, CEO of Indian Banks’ Association (IBA), discussed the development and his expectations from the February 1 budget.On the pending vigilance cases, he said: “IBA has persuaded the government to bring some improvement into the existing vigilance mechanism that will help the lenders in taking a more effective decision and a conscious business decision because now the government has paved the way for protecting the interest of the bankers as a genuine decision-maker of the business. The basic changes that have been brought down by the circular issued by the DFS [Department of Financial Services] is there were instructions that all accounts above Rs 50 crore were subjected to forensic audit and examination of a fraud angle. That was creating a lot of pressure on the part of the bankers and corporates,” he said.Mehta added: “The government has come out with the guidelines that all these cases now first will be examined by the banks internally. If they suspect any fraud then there is a board which has been formed by the CVC, that board will examine it and if they perceive that yes, materially there is a fraud, which need to be classified as a fraud and action has to be taken then it will proceed forward. It will not be very generalised, it will be very specific to limited cases where it is considered that there is a deliberate, conscious attempt on the part of the corporate or a person to divert the funds and to defraud the banking system.”On budget expectations, Mehta said that the government could look to prop sectors like infrastructure and real estate to revive growth and generate employment.“The credit growth has come down to 7.2 percent and that is low and there are a lot of contributing factors. If you compare the overall global scenario, the economy has gone down in most of the countries and we are no exception but we are still better than most of the countries.”The government definitely can provide support in two-three major sectors, which — basically lead into the employment — will propel the consumer demand, they will propel the industrial production and that will propel the overall growth in to the economy. For example, the infrastructure sector — giving the higher allocation and speeding up the implication of the infrastructure projects can definitely lead to a generation of more employment.”Similarly, affordable housing is one segment which will propel the growth into a very great sector. With the growth of the infrastructure and the affordable housing, the demand for infrastructure, steel, fans, electrical goods will move up which will pull the demand and growth in these sectors which will create employment also for the masses as well as will generate the better economic reasons.”The government’s 3.3 percent fiscal deficit target is expected to be missed. Mehta said that the government has a very difficult task of balancing its books and reviving growth. “Fiscal deficit definitely is a challenge because there are two contradictory goals to achieve — one is to contain the inflation and becoming more competitive in the international market and another goal is definitely the growth,” he concluded.

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