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Nirmala Sitharaman as Finance Minister in Modi 2.0; here’s what may have clicked for her

Ashish Pandey

With Nirmala Sitharaman being appointed as next Finance Minister, the responsibility lies on her shoulders to steer next course of economic reforms. Amid fears of slowdown and intensifying global trade wars, the job becomes all the more challenging for the former defence minister. The 59-year old BJP politician who has handled the Minister of State portfolio in the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Corporate Affairs and Minister of State (Independent charge) of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in the past would be expected to frame and implement policies to arrest slowdown, increase fixed investments and grow exports.

In this new avatar as Finance Minister, the key challenges for her would be — concerns about job growth, slowdown in consumption, recapitalization of PSU banks and ensuring that GDP is above 7.5%, while ensuring fiscal deficit remains under control, Abhimanyu Sofat, VP-Research, IIFL told Financial Express Online.

What sets her apart from other choices is her experience in the functioning of the previous government. Among the options available with Prime Minister Narnedra Modi, Nirmala Sitharaman is the best fit considering the amount of experience she holds being a senior union minister in the previous cabinet, Sameer Narang, Chief Economist, Bank of Baroda told Financial Express Online. She is the right person to take forward the unfinished agenda of the previous government and bring about necessary economic reforms, he added.

Also read: Modi s first 100 days plan: These big-bang reforms may be govt s topmost priority, NITI Aayog says

Nirmala Sitharaman is professional economist owing to her education and has also proved her leadership skills as the Defence Minister in the previous government. “With an illustrious academic background in the sphere of economics (Masters in Economics from JNU), a Doctorate in Indo-European Textile Trade, a stint in leading consultancy Pricewaterhouse Coopers as well as a reasonably successful stint as the Defence & Commerce Minister in the previous term of the government; Ms Nirmala Sitharaman is eminently qualified to steer India’s economy which is facing multiple headwinds of slowing consumption impulses, moribund private capex cycle and anemic exports , Ajay Bodke, CEO, PMS Prabhudas Lilladher said.

It s now to be seen how she manages to inject a strong dose of fiscal stimulus to revive animal spirits into the economy.