Govt’s yearly gross GST revenue hits record Rs 20.14 lakh cr in March ‘24 - Business Guardian
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Govt’s yearly gross GST revenue hits record Rs 20.14 lakh cr in March ‘24

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The Government’s yearly gross Good and Services Tax (GST) revenue for March 2024 witnessed the second highest collection ever at ₹20.18 lakh crore, with a 11.7 per cent year-on-year growth as strong consistent performance in FY 2023-24 paved the way for the milestone of total gross GST collection exceeding ₹20 lakh crore, the Finance Ministry said on Monday. This surge was driven by a significant rise in GST collection from domestic transactions at 17.6 per cent. The GST revenue net of refunds for March 2024 is ₹1.65 lakh crore which is growth of 18.4 per cent over same period last year.
The average monthly collection for this fiscal year stands at ₹1.68 lakh crore, surpassing the previous year’s average of ₹1.5 lakh crore. With continued double-digit growth, the CGST collections have exceeded the FY2024 revised estimate, albeit — Aditi Nayar, Chief Economist, ICRA – with a modest shortfall in the GST compensation cess inflows, which are now being used to repay the loans undertaken during the covid period. “With the CGST collections surpassing the FY2024 RE, the implicit growth needed to meet the interim budget estimate for FY2025 has come down to single-digits, which appears likely to be exceeded,” says Nayar.
The GST revenue net of refunds as of March 2024 for the current fiscal year is ₹18.01 lakh crore which is a growth of 13.4 per cent over same period last year. Recording positive performance across components, the Central goods and services tax (CGST): stands at ₹34,532 crore and state GST at ₹43,746 crore. The integrated GST (IGST) stands at ₹87,947 crore, including ₹40,322 crore collected on imported goods, cess of ₹12,259 crore (including ₹996 crore collected on imported goods). Similar positive trends are observed in the entire FY 2023-24 collections.
The CGST stands at ₹3,75,710 crore and SGST at ₹4,71,195 crore. The IGST collection is ₹10,26,790 crore, including ₹4,83,086 crore collected on imported goods and cess of ₹1,44,554 crore, including ₹11,915 crore collected on imported goods. Shravan Shetty, Managing Director at Primus Partners finds the growth in line with that estimated in the Budget for the coming year and feels maintaining this growth in the coming months will help the government meet its fiscal target. Such fiscal prudence combined with record reserves, notes Shetty, will “provide stability to the rupee and increase India’s attractiveness as a stable, high-growth economy in a sea of uncertainty seen across both developing and developed countries”.
As for inter-governmental settlement, in the month of March, 2024, the Central Government settled ₹43,264 crore to CGST and ₹37,704 crore to SGST from the IGST collected. This translates to a total revenue of ₹77,796 crore for CGST and ₹81,450 crore for SGST for March, 2024 after regular settlement. For the FY 2023-24, the central government settled ₹4,87,039 crore to CGST and ₹4,12,028 crore to SGST from the IGST collected.

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Economic

Pakistan to adopt National Fiscal Policy amid bailout talks with IMF, says World Bank

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Amid the staggering economic crisis in Pakistan, the World Bank has asked Islamabad to adopt a national fiscal policy by aligning federal and provincial spending with constitutional mandates, merging various federal and provincial revenue agencies into a single general sales tax (GST) collection agency, and effectively taxing agriculture, capital gains, and real estate in the next fiscal year’s budget, Dawn reported on Monday. “Implement the new Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation Acts (FDRLA) at the federal and provincial levels, including through the development and implementation of a national medium-term fiscal framework through the FY25 budget process,” the World Bank asked the government in its latest policy advice.

This is now expected to be made part of the next International Monetary Fund program that Pakistan Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb will be discussing with the lender next week in Washington on the sidelines of the World Bank-IMF spring meetings, Dawn reported. The bank demanded tangible progress on GST harmonisation across the federation and its federating units, “including through the rollout of the GST portal,” and a move towards “rate harmonisation to facilitate tax compliance and the provision of input tax credits.”. On top of this, the World Bank also suggested “consolidation of all GST collection responsibilities with a single agency, which could then distribute revenues in accordance with constitutional provisions” to reduce administrative complexity.

At present, GST is collected by the Federal Board of Revenue, mostly on goods and some services, while similar revenue boards are operating in provinces to collect GST on some services. However, given the overlapping nature of certain services, the stakeholders have been facing GST collection adjustments among the provinces. More importantly, the World Bank wants decisive actions to mobilize revenues from underutilized sources, particularly those relating to the unfinished agenda of the 7th National Finance Commission (NFC) award of 2010: urban immovable property tax, agricultural income tax, and capital gain taxes. While conceding greater federal pool resources to the provinces, it was agreed to effectively bring these areas into the tax net to increase the tax-to-GDP ratio to 15 percent in five years, but the deal (NFC) was drafted in a weak manner.

Dawn reported that the NFC had “recommended that the federal and provincial governments streamline their tax collection systems to reduce leakages and increase their revenue through efforts to improve taxes and achieve a tax-to-GDP ratio of 15 percent by the terminal year 2014–15. Provinces would initiate steps to effectively tax the agriculture and real estate sectors.” However, this has remained a pipe dream over the following 15 years. As for urban immovable property tax, the World Bank has demanded the application of harmonised valuation tables (currently based on rental value) to be updated annually based on observed variables such as inflation, insurance valuation, and sales records, and also to equalize rates between owner-occupiers and rentals.

In this regard, the bank also wants authorities to harmonize and reduce exemptions such as area-based exemptions, owner-occupier exemptions, and non-resident exemptions and to unify federal deemed income tax and urban immovable property tax. For agricultural income tax, the World Bank has asked the government to make the definition of land area consistent, reconsider exemptions based on the size of land holdings, and set common minimum rates based on crop acreage or production estimates. At the same time, the government should also incorporate irrigation and/or construct buildings to differentiate per-hectare minimum rates. Dawn reported that regarding the capital gains tax, the bank has advised the government to unify the treatment of builders, property developers, real estate investment trusts (REITs), and others, simplify the types of taxes related to capital gains and transfers (capital gains tax (CGT), capital value tax (CVT), stamp duty, withholding tax, etc.), remove years-held based differential rates, and simplify the rate structure.

Overall, the World Bank has suggested broader revenue reforms to expand the tax base, improve progressivity, and ease compliance. To achieve this, it wants to close existing corporate and sales tax exemptions, including tax exemptions for real estate, the energy sector, COVID response, and some basic household goods, and instead compensate poor households for negative impacts through enhanced social protection.

To improve tax compliance, the bank has called for addressing constraints delaying the rollout of the track-and-trace system to all sectors and simplifying the tax structure by reforming the “personal income tax (PIT) system to reduce complexity by aligning schemes for salaried and non-salaried workers” and reforming PIT schedules to increase equity by eliminating privileged treatment of specific income sources and by harmonizing rate structures across taxable income sources.

The Planning Commission has already prepared a national planning framework for the upcoming National Economic Council, with the overall theme of ending provincial projects from the federal budget and improving resource deployment through federal and provincial “synergy” in the light of the “true spirit of the constitutional scheme,” including the 7th National Finance Commission Award and 18th constitutional amendment, Dawn reported.

An official said the planning framework would “offer an operational strategy for federal and provincial governments in the context of prevailing constitutional responsibilities and roles for the shared and common objective of development and growth.”. He said the concept of balanced development and regional equity was not only the responsibility of the federal government but equally that of the provinces through their respective development programs, and it was also the essence of the 7th NFC and 18th Amendment.

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RBI calls for enhanced participation of Indian banks in global markets

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The Governor of Reserve Bank Shaktikanta Das has called for enhanced participation of Indian banks in global markets, which will growing, is yet quite small, and expressed concern over participation of domestic banks in derivative markets remaining limited with only a small set of active market makers. Domestic banks are dealing with market-makers in global markets rather than with end clients and are yet to emerge as market-makers of note globally, the RBI Governor said Monday at a global conference in Barcelona. These are among the six recommendations of the RBI Governor for the further development of India’s financial markets, which have seen a slew of reforms undertaken by the RBI and aimed at providing a strong bedrock for markets to move to the next trajectory for meeting the growing funding requirements in the economy, providing cost effective hedging options and competing effectively in global markets.

Providing the backdrop to RBI’s market reforms, Das recalled that the onset of the global financial crisis (2008) which altered the way the world looked at financial markets, played out at a time when India’s financial markets were just beginning to develop, buoyed by the needs of a growing economy and in the background of the transition to market-determined interest rates and exchange rates, convertibility in the current account and gradual liberalisation of the capital account. Despite significant institutional and market infrastructure developments like setting up of the Clearing Corporation of India Limited (CCIL) and the operationalization of RTGS, the NDS-OM platform and a trade repository for derivatives, markets remained in the early throes of development.

Bank-intermediated finance was the preferred funding option, diversity in financial products and participants was limited and the approach to foreign participation in domestic markets was guarded. At the same time, the economy’s growing aspirations was placing increasing demands on financial markets while successive global crises necessitated prudent risk management. Das emphasised that it was this context which provided the stage for the RBI’s efforts in recent years to develop the financial markets focused on meeting the needs of a more confident and aspirational economy. Das drive home the the RBI’s reform endeavours which have over the years fostered trust, stability and innovation by making capital raising more efficient, removing segmentation between onshore and offshore markets, expanding the participation base by easing access to markets for hedging and expressing views on market movements, promoting innovation through a larger suite of products and ensuring the integrity and resilience of markets and market infrastructure and ensuring fair conduct by market participants.

“There are, however, some areas which call for attention,” Das said While a lot of progress has been made by banks and other market participants, the six specific areas where more can be done include widening participation of domestic banks in derivative markets. Das suggests that that banks need to do their own due diligence, assess their risk appetite, and then move forward carefully in this direction with focus on enhancing and widening the participation of Indian players in markets for INR derivatives, both domestically and offshore, while being prudent. Another important call for action is that transparency in pricing remains work in progress and more can be done.

Das expressed concern that the retail customer is yet to get a deal at par with large customers which calls for effective marketmaking and finer pricing for smaller deals on NDS-OM. Besides, Das noted that divergence in pricing in FX markets for the small and large customers are wider than what can be justified by operational considerations and banks may need to do more to facilitate the use of the FX Retail platform. He cautioned that banking channels continue to be used by certain persons or entities to fund activities on unauthorised FX trading platforms. This warrants enhanced vigilance by the banks. The other recommendation pertained to bank treasuries which need to scale up their dynamism to utilise the opportunities presented in the context of the recent regulatory reforms.

According to Das, this is very critical for achieving efficient market intermediation, effective management of financial risks and alignment of financial variables across different segments and markets. Das informed that from FY 2024-25, the new prudential framework for investment by banks has come into effect which provide increased flexibility to banks in managing their treasuries and offer scope for increased efficiency, provided banks manage their treasury function actively. The framework of assessment of a bank’s treasury should take into account risks arising out of action and risks arising out of inaction i.e., missed opportunities. Das suggests appropriate safeguards be put in place to address the new challenges posed by new products, participants and markets.

For example, as sophisticated OTC derivative products are introduced, they must be accompanied by adoption of certain safeguards, both by the market-makers as well as customers. As Indian markets get integrated with global markets and non-resident participation increases, transmission channels from global developments will become stronger and speedier and this, Das observes, will require greater watchfulness and proactive management of the associated risks by market participants even as the opportunities are grabbed. Das concluded by highlighting the strong foundation laid down by RBI through development of the financial markets in a manner that can continue to meet the needs of a growing and globally connected economy while fostering trust, stability and innovation.

Moreover, according to the RBI Governor, financial markets has been sought to be promoted through market reforms which have focused on ensuring fair market conduct by preventing market abuse, fair customer conduct through robust market-marking regulations and ensuring price transparency and enhanced disclosures by market participants. Das underlined that achievement of desired outcomes will be contingent on financial institutions and market participants taking forward the reform agenda so that India has vibrant and internationally competitive financial markets. Das set collaboration to usher in the next generation reforms to place India at a position it rightly deserves as the agenda for the next decade coinciding with 100 years of RBI.

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Auto

Modest growth of 3.14 % in retail sales, PVs dip 6 %, 2W & 3Wsoar: FADA

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In FY24, auto retail sales saw sector-wide growth, leading to a 10 per cent yoy growth, with the 2W segment registering growth rate of 9 per cent, 3W segment growing by 49 per cent, PVs by 8.45 per cent, tractors by 8 per cent and commercial vehicles by 5 per cent respectively.

Despite election uncertainties, economic concerns and intense competition, the two wheeler and 3W segments showcased positive sentiment in March retail sales, especially in the premium and EV segments even as the Indian auto retail sector posted a modest growth of 3.14 per cent yoy in March 2024, with passenger vehicles sales showing a decline of 6 per cent, tractors showing a decline of 3 per cent and commercial vehicles facing a slump of 6 per cent respectively. However, in FY24, auto retail sales saw sector-wide growth, leading to a 10 per cent yoy growth, with the 2W segment registering growth rate of 9 per cent, 3W segment growing by 49 per cent, PVs by 8.45 per cent, tractors by 8 per cent and commercial vehicles by 5 per cent respectively, the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA) said on Monday.

Heading into FY’25, FADA projects growth amidst a mix of optimism and challenges. The vehicle retail data of FADA for March’24 and FY’24 shows a surge in electric vehicle sales amidst expiration of the FAME 2 subsidy on 31 March with the 2W electric vehicles share jumping to 9.12 per cent for the first time. There was positive sentiment in 3W segment which demonstrated growth driven by the increasing acceptance of EVs, showing an optimistic trend despite potential challenges from election uncertainties and policy changes. Manish Raj Singhania, notes that the 2W segment demonstrated resilience and adaptability, with EV sales surging due to the expiration of the FAME 2 subsidy on March 31st. “This led to a notable boost in the 2W-EV market share to 9.12 per cent. “Positive market sentiment was supported by seasonal events, improved vehicle supply, and financial incentives. Despite facing market volatility and intense competition, the industry is strategically evolving, particularly in the premium and EV categories, signalling a bright future.” said Singhania.

In FY24, auto retail sales saw sector-wide growth, leading to a 10 per cent yoy growth, with the 2W segment registering growth rate of 9 per cent, 3W segment growing by 49 per cent, PVs by 8.45 per cent, tractors by 8 per cent and commercial vehicles by 5 per cent respectively. The 2W segment benefited by enhanced model availability, the introduction of new products and a positive market sentiment, alongside the burgeoning EV market and strategic premium segment launches. The growth in the 3W segment was driven by the introduction of cost-effective CNG fuel options, new EV models, expanding city landscapes, demand in last mile mobility in urban centres resulting in strong demand, marking a new industry benchmark. The PV segment’s growth was propelled by improved vehicle availability, a compelling model mix and significant contributions from the SUV segment, which now claims 50 per cent market share.

The auto is projecting an optimistic outlook in FY’25, focusing on new product launches, especially in EVs and leveraging economic growth, favourable government policies and expectation of good monsoon to fuel demand, despite facing challenges like competition and the need for strategic market engagement. The 3W segment showed an encouraging sales trend hitting an all-time high retail, driven by the growing acceptance of EVs. The introduction of EV autos and loaders positively impacted the retail environment. Although faced with election-related uncertainties and concerns over policy changes, such as free bus travel for women, the overall outlook for the sector remains upbeat, supported by the quality of vehicles and strong market demand.

The PV sector encountered challenges, with a m-o-m decrease of 2 per cent and a yoy fall of 6 per cent The downturn was influenced by heavy discounting and selective financing further affected by economic worries and the electoral climate. Nonetheless, positives such as improved vehicle availability, increased stock levels and new model launches did stimulate demand in certain areas. The impact of election activities and changes in festival dates also played a role in sales dynamics. The near-term outlook of FADA notes concern over decline in consumer sentiment among urban Indians and warns that the automotive sector faces a nuanced challenge. Given the continued inflationary trend without any relief in finance rates, these prospective buyers may continue to hesitate. Heading into FY’25, the auto industry is poised for growth amidst a mix of optimism and challenges.

The excitement around new product launches, particularly electric vehicles, sets a forward-looking tone. Manufacturers are gearing up with better supply chains and an array of models to meet diverse consumer demands. Economic growth, favourable government policies and an anticipated good monsoon are expected to fuel demand, especially in rural areas and the commercial vehicle sector, which is closely linked to infrastructure projects and economic activity.

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Economic

UNGA President praises India’s digitalization, infrastructure Investment

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Dennis Francis, the President of the UN General Assembly, has praised India for its effective utilization of digitalization, which has facilitated financial inclusion and poverty alleviation. He emphasized that this positions the country with a “comparative advantage” and suggests that its insights can benefit the global community.

“Let me say first of all that since I’ve been to India, every time I think of India, I think of Incredible India. And I mean this in all earnest. And I saw it when I was there. The specific example to which I can refer is India’s use of digitalization,” Francis, President of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, told PTI in an exclusive interview. He referred to the country’s tourism tagline of ‘Incredible India’.

Francis was in India from January 22-26 this year on an official visit, during which he held a bilateral meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in New Delhi and also travelled to Jaipur and Mumbai. During the visit, his interactions with government officials, civil society members, and think tanks focused on issues such as sustainability, multilateralism, accessibility, and digital public infrastructure.

The UN leader lauded India’s use of digitalization to alleviate poverty and bring millions of people into the formal economic system “simply through the use of a handset and a digitalization model.” He underscored that digitalization is important because it is “productive, it drives cost down, makes economies more efficient, makes things cheaper.” He cited the example of digitalization helping Indian women and farmers across the length and breadth of the country and in far-flung places to negotiate their prices, deal with banks, and make payments without having to leave their homes, farmlands, or areas.

“All of this is helping to make the economy of India much more competitive. So I think this is an area in which India has a comparative advantage and has lessons that can be shared with the international community.”

Francis also pointed out that during his visit to India, he was impressed with the level of investments being made in infrastructure development across the country.

He stressed that infrastructure is one of the areas of economic activity known to boost growth in any economy because it creates huge demands for materials, labor, and inputs and provides jobs. “Because of the multiplier effect, growth literally gallops,” he said. “I noted when I was in your country recently, India, and I was really quite impressed with this – the extent of investment being made in infrastructure in India, not just highways but even rail and monorails,” he said. He said that countries invest heavily in infrastructure because infrastructure integrates markets and brings people together but it also has an immediate and consequential impact on growth.

Francis, however, stressed the need for building infrastructure sustainably in the current times of extreme climate events. “If the infrastructure is built in a sustainable way, if it is resilient and can therefore withstand external shocks and stresses, it means that the economy is able to bounce back more quickly from that event, fewer jobs are lost, and it requires less in the way of investment to get things working and moving again in the economy,” he said.

It makes sense to use sustainable materials and methods and invest in sustainable infrastructure because it minimizes the overall disruption in the economy, he said.

Francis will convene the UN’s first-ever “Sustainability Week” April 15-19 at the world body’s headquarters that will feature dedicated events focused on sustainability in critical sectors such as tourism, infrastructure connectivity, transport, energy, and debt.

He has said that the goal of the week will be “to unleash progress across the 2030 Agenda towards a more sustainable future” as we also ready ourselves for the Summit of the Future to be held in September 2024 during the high-level General Assembly session.

Last year, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj highlighted at the world body the impact of financial inclusion on the social and economic empowerment of people in India. She noted that in 2009, only 17 per cent of adults in India had bank accounts, 15 per cent used digital payments, one in 25 had a unique ID document, and about 37 per cent had mobile phones. These numbers grew exponentially, and today, tele density has reached up to 93 per cent, over a billion people have a digital ID document, and more than 80 per cent have bank accounts. As of 2022, over 600 crore digital payment transactions were completed per month.

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International Affairs

Growing poverty and malnutrition crisis in Afghan women, Children

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According to WFP reports, an alarming 1.2 million women are now grappling with malnutrition across the country.

The United Nations World Food Programme in Afghanistan has issued a warning concerning the escalating malnutrition rates among women and children in the country. The report emphasizes that over the past three years, malnutrition admissions in Kabul have tripled. The UN agency noted that Afghanistan’s malnutrition situation is deteriorating, attributed in part to reduced humanitarian supplies reaching the nation. The UN agency stated that the situation is getting “worse” in Afghanistan due to the increase in malnutrition. One of the main causes of the rise in malnutrition in Afghanistan has reportedly been the decrease in humanitarian supplies to the nation.

According to Mishro, a nurse at a malnutrition ward, the mental and psychological health of women has declined over the last two years, and the number of malnutrition cases in Afghanistan has been rising. She underlined that there is not enough room for these patients and that undernourished moms have contributed to their children’s malnourishment. “For women who are malnourished, the situation is not good in 50 per cent of cases,” she continued.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme has also highlighted the rise in the number of malnourished women in the nation. This occurs at the same time that human rights organizations are becoming increasingly concerned about Afghanistan’s rising rates of poverty and malnutrition, particularly among women.

Afghan people have been leaving their homes because of poverty, insecurity, and conflicts in the country. Moreover, Afghanistan’s women have faced numerous challenges since the Taliban returned to power in 2021. Taliban leaders have also disregarded international calls for women and girls to be given access to education and employment. Apparently, they have also issued warnings to other nations not to meddle in Afghanistan’s domestic affairs.

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Economic

India’s food processing sector set to surge, eyes USD 535 billion by 2025-26

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Anita Praveen, the Secretary of the Ministry of Food Processing, emphasized the pivotal role of research and development (R&D) in propelling India’s food processing sector to greater heights. Speaking at the FICCI Scientific Symposium on ‘Processed Foods for Purpose,’ Praveen highlighted the sector’s significant potential for growth and its status as a priority area within India’s agricultural landscape.

Praveen stated, “The Indian agriculture sector is witnessing robust growth with record levels of production, and the Food Processing sector has become one of the priority sectors for growth.” She added, “We have already reached high levels of growth with the resources we have. There is a need now for the food processing sector with R&D as a focus for taking the sector to the next level.”

She underscored the pivotal role of the food processing sector in driving economic growth and generating employment opportunities, particularly for micro and small enterprises. “Food processing sector is one of the large investment generators, particularly for the micro and small sector, and has the potential to bring more private investments,” said Praveen. “With the resources at our disposal, we have achieved substantial growth. Now, the focus must shift towards leveraging R&D to propel the sector to new heights,” she remarked.

The Secretary outlined the strategic advantages of the food processing industry, citing abundant availability of raw materials at competitive prices and burgeoning consumer demand both domestically and internationally. “This sector has advantages of high raw materials availability at cheaper prices, high consumer demands both in domestic and international markets. This is the time to give a push to the food processing industry,” Praveen said.

Praveen also addressed the pressing issue of food wastage, emphasizing the need for comprehensive waste management strategies at every stage, from farm to fork. She stressed the importance of direct engagement between industry players, farmers, and micro-level processing units to enhance efficiency and minimize wastage.

“The time is right to bring these micro units and link them with large industries. The downward linkage approach will be advantageous for large industries to control quality, maintain standards, and have a sustained supply chain,” she added. “The industry should focus on educating the consumer, and we must adopt a balanced approach to this educational initiative. Consumers must know what they are consuming, and quality food production is the responsibility of the industry,” she added.

To boost exports, Praveen advocated for closer collaboration between large industries and smaller units, emphasizing the importance of quality control and maintaining robust supply chains. She highlighted the industry’s responsibility in consumer education, advocating for transparency and a balanced approach to fostering awareness about food quality and safety.

Siraj Hussain, Advisor to the FICCI Food Processing Committee and Former Secretary of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, echoed Praveen’s sentiments, emphasizing the critical role of food processing in ensuring food safety and nutrition. “Food processing serves as a critical link between farm and fork. It acts as a catalyst for economic growth, generating employment opportunities and driving innovation across the food sector. The role of food processing in providing safe, healthy, and nutritious food has now taken center stage,” Hussain said. He underscored the sector’s potential as a driver of economic growth and innovation.

Sanjay Khajuria, president of CIFTI-FICCI and director, Corporate Affairs at Nestle India Ltd, hailed food processing as a ‘sunrise sector,’ lauding its progress in modernization and sustainable economic growth. “Food Processing sector is considered a sunrise sector and has achieved notable progress in terms of modernization and sustainable economic growth in recent years,” he said.

Dr. Seema Bathla, professor at the Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University, highlighted the four key elements of the Indian agriculture food system: production, consumption, ecology, and environment. “The Indian agriculture food system has four key elements which include production, consumption, ecology, and environment,” she said.

With projections indicating an upward trend, India’s food processing sector’s output is expected to soar more than USD 600 billion by the fiscal year 2025-26.

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