‘Slowdown due to demonetisation effect’: MoS Finance Anurag Thakur heckled at auto industry event

Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur was heckled at an ACMA event on Friday after he asked auto industry players why sales had not picked up despite measures taken by government, RBI intervention and big discounts by manufacturers, to which a participant interjected and said it was because of the “demonetisation effect”.

Thakur was seeking inputs from industry players on the reasons behind the slowdown, despite government’s efforts to support the ailing sector, at the Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA) annual summit here.

Jasbir Singh of GS Auto Ludhiana interrupted the junior finance minister’s address, saying “This is the delayed effect of demonetisation. People don’t have money!”

Thakur, however, kept his composure and repeatedly said “Thank you”.

Seeking to calm down the atmosphere after the interruption, Thakur said, “If that is the delayed effect (of demonetisation), how do you move ahead form here? How do you go forward?”

“If there is reduction in interest rates after the Reserve Bank of India’s recent actions, discounts by companies (have been offered) and many other initiatives have been taken by the central government, why the industry is not seeing the same kind of demand?

“Is the demand coming down globally or is it only coming down locally?” he questioned.

“The other issue is people are using cabs more or maybe they are looking at other options like electric vehicles (EVs), BSVI vehicles… What are the main reasons? There could be many reasons for that. Is it just cyclical?” he asked the gathering.

Later on, Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Arjun Ram Meghwal during his speech took the argument to Singh asserting that demonetization and goods and services tax were economic reforms that were needed to make India a USD 5-trillion economy.

“This is economic reform sir. This made India a USD 3-trillion economy. How much cash can you keep sardarji?” Meghwal asked.

He further said, “This country has to develop, and you are trying to run a parallel economy.”

The minister asserted: “Parallel economy cannot run under the Modi government, although some ratio will remain as is prevalent in other developed countries.”

After the session, many of the participants were seen going to Singh and congratulating him for speaking for the industry.