New Delhi: Amid the nationwide lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Friday meet Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The meeting between the two leaders is expected to finalise a second stimulus package for industry, the poor and farmers at this time of coronavirus crisis. Also Read - Coronavirus: PM Modi to Meet Sitharaman on Friday; Economic Stimulus Likely to be Discussed
The meeting of the two leaders comes after numerous deliberations within the government and with experts. Ahead of the meeting, senior officials from the PMO had on Wednesday held a video conference with officials from the finance ministry, Niti Aayog, members of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, and independent experts. Also Read - Could Not Believe PM Modi Called to Ask How I am Doing, Says Jana Sangh Old Associate
Focus on urban and rural poor Also Read - ‘Commend Your Leadership’: Bill Gates Praises PM Modi For Taking Bold Steps to Fight Coronavirus
It is expected that the upcoming package will be focused on the urban and rural poor, including migrant workers, who are stranded in different parts of the country. The package is also expected to focus on the disadvantaged sections of society, micro small and medium enterprises, and some of the worst-affected sectors.
For the industrial sector, the focus would be to provide easier and cheaper access to credit and to release more money into the credit guarantee fund trust for the small and medium industries. As per updates, there is a proposal for another hike in NREGA payments, and disbursals under the PM-KISAN scheme.
Experts also expect that the upcoming package would be roughly similar in size to the Rs 1.7 trillion-package that was last time announced by Nirmala Sitharaman in March. A number of Indian industry bodies like Assocham, FICCI and CII have been demanding for big package from the Centre within the range of Rs 9 trillion and Rs 23 trillion.
To revive the economy of the country, the Central government last week allowed economic and industrial activity to resume in certain areas and in non-hotspots. However, the restrictions have not been completely withdrawn keeping in mind the rising cases of coronavirus.
A number of sectors including the industrial and agricultural sectors have huge expectation from the Centre as Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman last week said the government will soon announce fresh relief measures and economic stimulus to help the poor and industry fight the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Participating in the 101st meeting of the Development Committee Plenary of the World Bank through video conference, Sitharaman had assured the global community that India would continue to supply critical medicines to needy countries for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
She had also said that support measures worth USD 23 billion (Rs 1.70 lakh crore) were provided, comprising free health insurance to health workers; cash transfers, free food and gas distribution; and social security measures for affected workers.
Sitharaman had also said that to help companies, especially SME firms, cope with sudden loss of economic opportunity, the government has provided relief in statutory and regulatory compliance matters related to income tax, GST, customs, financial services and corporate affairs.
“The Central government is working extensively with stakeholders for providing additional relief in the form of humanitarian aid and to provide economic stimulus in the coming days,” she had said.
To curb the coronavirus pandemic, the government has taken a number of steps that includes social distancing, travel restrictions, work from and stay at home in public and private sectors, and direct health interventions centred on scaled up testing, screening and treatment.
Lower GDP growth
On the other hand, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in a paper – A plan for economic recovery – has said that India’s GDP is likely to range between a decline of 0.9 per cent and a growth of 1.5 per cent in the current financial year. It also said that the economy of the country is undergoing a turbulent phase caused by the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
With 34 more deaths and 1,229 fresh cases, the death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 686 and the number of cases climbed to 21,700 in the country on Thursday.
The Health officials said that the number of active COVID-19 cases stood at 16,689 as 4,324 people were cured and discharged, and one patient migrated.