‘Don’t want anyone to remain hungry’: Sitharaman announces Covid-19 relief package

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday announced a comprehensive economic package to deal with the impact of coronavirus disease Covid-19.

“The government has been working to reach out to women, migrant workers, and the disadvantaged section of the society. We have come out with a package that will address concerns of these people. We are looking at two aspects: Cash transfer and food security related measures,” Sitharaman said at a press conference.

“We don’t want anyone to remain hungry, or without money. So we will be giving enough,” she added announcing Rs 1,70,000 crore relief package for urban and rural poor.

The finance minister also expressed gratitude for all those “frontline warriors” who are dealing with patients affected by coronavirus disease.

“They could be ASHA workers, nurses, doctors. They are being referred to as ‘God in white costumes’. For them, we are providing an insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh per person,” said Sitharaman.

Earlier this week, the Finance Minister had said a package is under works and will be announced.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week had constituted a task force headed by the Finance Minister to work out package for economy hit by coronavirus and reeling under a 21-day lockdown.

The lockdown means that India won’t meet its five per cent growth target this year; it also means that India will miss its 10 per cent nominal growth target next year (2020-21).

Investment and consumption will both fall. There will be job losses. More people will be pushed back into poverty. The crisis in the banking sector, both a cause and effect of the pre-coronavirus slowdown in India, will become worse.

The worst affected will be the informal sector – hit hard by 2016’s demonetisation and further weakened by 2017’s implementation of a unified Goods and Services Tax – but a three-week suspension of economic activity will hit just about every business.

The total number of Covid-19 cases in India has risen to 649, including 593 active cases and 42 people who have been cured or discharged from hospitals, the Ministry of Health said.

Source : Hindustan Times

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