Coronavirus: Modi government working on economic package to help people

The Narendra Modi government is working on an economic package on priority amid the coronavirus crisis, and will announce it soon, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says.

The Narendra Modi government is working on an economic package to help people, amid the COVID-19 or novel coronavirus crisis, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Tuesday. The government is working on the package on priority and will be announcing it soon, she added.

Finance Minister Niramala Sitharaman

The finance minister made the revelation on micro-blogging site, Twitter, while announcing that she will address the media this afternoon via video conferencing on statutory and regulatory compliance matters.


“Even as we are readying an economic package to help us through the corona lockdown (on priority, to be announced soon), I will address the media at 2 pm today, specifically on statutory and regulatory compliance matters. Via video conference,” the tweet read.

Earlier this morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took to Twitter to announce that he would be addressing the nation at 8 pm on Tuesday. This would be the prime minister’s second address on the novel coronavirus, and comes just days after his first address on Thursday.

“Will address the nation at 8 PM today, 24th March 2020, on vital aspects relating to the menace of COVID-19,” PM Modi tweeted.

On Monday, Narendra Modi held two separate interactions with heads of media houses and leaders of India Inc. via video conferencing, to discuss the fallout of the coronavirus crisis.

India Inc., through industry associations such as CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) and Assocham (The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India), had earlier written to Prime Minister Modi and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman seeking measures such as a year-long moratorium by banks on debt repayment, tax cuts and fiscal stimulus amounting to Rs 2 lakh crore to needy citizens through Aadhaar-based direct benefit transfer.

"Fiscal and monetary stimulus measures need to be announced urgently," CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee had said.

Last week, Canada announced a fiscal-stimulus and tax-deferral package amounting to nearly 4 percent of its gross domestic product, in a bid to contain the economic damage caused by the novel coronavirus.

The Modi government on Monday issued an advisory to both private and public companies to not lay off employees or cut their salaries, in the wake of the novel coronavirus crisis.

The advisory to employers also highlighted the fact that job cuts and wage cuts would “further deepen the crises and will not only weaken the financial condition of the employee but will also hamper their morale to combat” the pandemic. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus a global pandemic on March 11.

The Indian economy has been going through its worst slowdown in a decade. The coronavirus crisis will only compound the country’s economic troubles. India's unemployment rate rose to 7.78 per cent in February, the highest since October 2019, according to data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).

The country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth fell to 4.7 per cent in the third quarter of the current fiscal year. The coronavirus crisis is likely to drag growth further down, in the fourth quarter.

The novel coronavirus has so far taken nine lives in India and infected over 490 people. Across the globe, it has killed more than 16,550 and infected over 3,81,760 people, according to real-time population data tracker, Worldometer. 

Millions of people across India have been put under lockdown, in a bid to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. Starting Monday, most parts of the country started going into strict lockdown, restricting movement, travel, and work till March 31. Inter-state buses, passenger trains, and metro services have been suspended till the end of the month and domestic airlines will also stop flying after midnight tonight.

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)


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