Coronavirus: Nirmala Sitharaman expected to announce economic package

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.

Coronavirus: Nirmala Sitharaman expected to announce economic package

Thursday March 26, 2020,

2 min Read

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will soon announce a comprehensive package to deal with coronavirus impact on the economy.

The announcement is expected to take place at 1 pm on Thursday, according to an official.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

File photo of Finance Minister Niramala Sitharaman

Earlier this week, the Finance Minister had said a package is under works and will be announced soon.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week had constituted a task force headed by the Finance Minister to work out a package for the economy hit by coronavirus.

On Monday, 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.

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 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 percent 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 percent in the third quarter of the current fiscal year. The coronavirus crisis is likely to drag growth further down, in the fourth quarter.

(Disclaimer: Additional background information has been added to this PTI copy for context)