The Indian economy, compared to the situation prevailing in many of our peer groups and in many of the developed economies, is definitely much better, said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while responding to the short-duration discussion on the rising prices of essentials in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
She said that nobody is in denial about the price rise.
"We are not running away, we are here to discuss and nobody is saying and nobody is in denial about the price rise", said Sitharaman.
The finance minister said that the government has adopted a targeted approach based on ground-level inputs to tackle retail inflation which is ruling at around 7 per cent.
"4 is the median point considered generally for inflation, sometimes minus two or plus two is what is normally accommodated. And, we are at 7 with some efforts or it can be slightly more than 7 but we have made sure with Reserve Bank and government put together or taken enough steps to make sure that it is kept at 7 or below 6 ideally," she said.
The minister acknowledged that global factors are impacting the economy, and said 'these are realities'.
While discussing GST, the FM said that all states agreed to levy 5 per cent GST on labelled food items. "All states at the GST Council agreed to the proposal to levy 5% GST on pre-packed, labelled food items; not one person spoke against," said the minister. She clarified that there is no GST on loose food items.
She reiterated that there is no GST on crematoriums or mortuaries. However, if someone wants to open a new crematorium GST will be imposed. "No GST on crematorium; tax only on the construction of a new crematorium.". She added that hospital beds or an ICU room with less than Rs 5,000 per day rent have been exempted from GST.
She compared the taxes on essential items in the pre-GST-era and post GST and claimed that her government has lowered the cess on several items. We have contained prices of tomato, onion, potato, said Sitharaman comparing the rates with those in November 2013.
On the Jal Jeevan Mission, the finance minister said that in 2019, there were only 3.2 crore households getting piped water but now 9.6 crore households are getting piped water under the Jal Jeevan Mission.