Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a Rs 1.7 lakh crore economic relief package to sail the country through the coronavirus crisis and the impact of the 21-day national lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24.
The package involved free food grain and cooking gas for the poor for the next three months, as well as free LPG refills under Pradhan Mantri Ujwala Yojana. Around 20.5 crore women Jan Dhan Account holders will get Rs 500 per month for the next three months, while poor senior citizens, widows, and disabled will get a one-time cash dole of Rs 1,000.
Without work, many migrant labourers from across the country started walking back home, as no mode of interstate transportation is available. To provide relief, the Bihar government converted district schools into 'home quarantines' for people coming back to the state and unable to reach their villages.
The measures come as India saw the highest jump in COVID-19 cases in a day — by 88. According to Worldometer, the total number of infections in the country stand at 719, with 16 deaths reported.
FM Nirmala Sitharaman announces economic relief for women in relief package for coronavirus
The confusion regarding gig economy workers being allowed to work continues as the Delhi government withdrew the permission it had given to online delivery services like Zomato, Flipkart, and Grofers. However, Delhi, along with Karnataka, has announced that essential services will be open 24x7 during the lockdown.
Meanwhile, many corporates have decided to lend a hand to mitigate the health crisis. Mahindra & Mahindra said that it will send a ventilator prototype for approval within three days and price it at just Rs 7,500 to bridge the gap between the demand and the present infrastructure capacity. CEO Anand Mahindra also said that the Mahindra Group is working to figure out how its factories can produce the ventilators.
Across the world, the number of coronavirus cases has crossed 500,000, with over 22,000 deaths, according to Worldometer.
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The FM said this fund is aimed at supporting and assisting the construction workers so that they "stay at home and don’t expose themselves to the risk because everything has come to a halt."
Women under Jan Dhan Yojana, Ujjwala schemes to receive Rs 500 and free cooking gas for next three months under the relief package for poor hit by coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown.
Foodtech giant Zomato has launched the ‘Feed the Daily Wager’ initiative to ensure meals for daily wage workers who are out of work due to the 21-day coronavirus lockdown.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that stores providing essential services such as groceries, medicines etc can open shops 24x7, and will not require any additional permits and licenses to do so.
RB will be donating one million litres of its disinfectant products, including Lizol and Harpic toilet cleaners, to aid India's public health institutions, and health and sanitation workers.
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The F&B Covid Emergency Group, a consortium of 50 entrepreneurs in the F&B space, is lobbying for government bailout for the sector as well as seeking help to address the ambiguity in the definition of ‘essential food items’.
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According to Worldometer, COVID-19 cases in India have reached a tally of 718 patients with 14 fatalities.
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Along with announcing their plans on the ventilator prototype, Mahindra & Mahindra also added that it expects to price these ventilators at just Rs 7,500, which otherwise costs up to Rs 10 lakh, as it seeks to assist in combating coronavirus pandemic.
Amidst the coronavirus lockdown, 80 crore ration card holders will each get five kg of wheat or rice and one kg of preferred pulses free of cost every month for the next three months.
FM Sitharaman said the government has finalised an economic stimulus package to deal with the impact of the 21-day countrywide lockdown to mitigate the coronavirus outbreak.
To provide relief to farmers affected due to the lockdown, the Centre said it will transfer the first instalment of Rs 2,000 to each of 8.69 crore beneficiaries under the PM-KISAN scheme in the first week of April.
Ecommerce companies Paytm Mall, Amazon and Flipkart have temporarily stopped taking orders for non-essential items due to restrictions imposed during the nationwide lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus.
"As lockdowns are imposed in other global manufacturing hubs, besides China, the extent of impairment to global supply chain and global growth is likely to increase," said Arun Singh, Chief Economist Dun & Bradstreet India.
Researchers at a UK university have developed a portable smartphone-based kit that sequences genetic material from a throat swab and can detect the presence of coronavirus in just 50 minutes.
According to WTO, global trade may see a sharp fall in the coming months due to the coronavirus outbreak.
In the wake of coronavirus pandemic, leading stock exchanges cut down trading hours for commodities derivative segment till 5 pm, instead of current practice of allowing it up till midnight.
The International Monetary Fund and World Bank on Wednesday called for governments to put a hold on debt payments from the world's poorest nations so they can battle the coronavirus pandemic.
In a bid to help people and businesses affected in the wake of coronavirus outbreak, state-owned lenders including Indian Bank, Union Bank of India and Bank of Baroda on Wednesday announced special emergency loan products.
The coronavirus-related worries are likely to aggravate difficulties for Indian banks, ratings agency Fitch said on Thursday, revising down the operating environment score for the critical sector by a notch.
DPIIT has set up a control room to monitor in real-time the status of transportation and delivery of essential commodities amid the coronavirus lockdown in the country.
To ensure no one starves, the Kerala government's 'community kitchens' became operational from Thursday to deliver free food to migrant workers, elderly, and those in home quarantine during the 21-day lockdown declared for fighting the spread of coronavirus.
An economic package to deal with the coronavirus impact is expected to be announced by Nirmala Sitharaman at 1 pm on Thursday, according to an official.
(Edited by Suman Singh)
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