Want to expedite and simplify access of funds to entrepreneurs: Nirmala Sitharaman

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NEW DELHI: On the occasion of the first anniversary of the Startup India initiative, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman expounded on the progress the programme has been making since the idea was first mooted by PM Narendra Modi in his Independence Day address in 2015.

“Based on the feedback we are getting, we have come to an understanding that entrepreneurs are getting better access to funds – both through the private sector as well as from the government – since the policy announcement made last year,” said Sitharaman. “We are looking to see how this process can further be expedited and simplified,” she added.

Talking about the oft-discussed ‘fund of funds’, the minister added that the government cannot be expected to completely supplant existing network of VCs and angel investors, but instead, will support this and further churn this cycle of investing.

“Funding environment has always existed and VCs will continue investing in startups,” she said. “When it comes to the fund of funds, we have committed to the money, moved it on to SIDBI and are now working to see how these funds can be disbursed quickly,” she added.

Sitharaman also indicated that startups may get additional tax benefits in the forthcoming Budget, according to PTI. The report suggested that the ministry has already suggested the finance ministry to consider raising tax holiday for startups to seven years from the current three years.

“All the suggestions of entrepreneurs have been compiled by the ministry and given to the finance ministry,” the minister was quoted as saying in the report. “The government is committed to removing legislative hurdles, if any, being faced by them. The Centre is also involving local authorities, including states, to help the budding entrepreneurs in terms of local taxes among others,” she added.