Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is holding a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at 7 Lok Kalyan Marg and according to sources, an economic package will be finalised by the government in a bid to revive the economy and to counter the severe economic impact of COVID-19. During his speech, while announcing the extension of nationwide lockdown, PM Modi had said that from an economic perspective, India has paid a lot but it pales into insignificance when compared to the protection of lives.
PM Modi on Saturday, before officially announcing the extension of lockdown, had said that there seems to be a consensus among states on the extension of lockdown by another two weeks and said the motto of the government earlier was 'jaan hai to jahaan hai' but now is 'jaan bhi jahaan bhi'.
PM's thrust on 'jaan bhi and jahaan bhi' (life also, the world also), during his interaction with Chief Ministers through video conferencing, appeared to be an indication of some relaxation in restrictions and a possibility of a wider economic stimulus package.
The government is also considering the benefits of partially resuming economic activity, including opening up certain sectors starting April 20, to provide relief to daily wagers, farmers and small businesses.
Earlier, Republic TV sources had said that a decision of the second economic package will be taken post a high-level cabinet meeting. Sources said that the government is looking at the industries which create job opportunities for the common man. The package may support the labour-intensive sectors like construction. Sources also added that the second package will be bigger than the Rs 1.75 Crore package announced earlier.
While announcing the first package, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the relief package includes direct benefit cash transfers, free LPG, grains, and pulses for the poor while the middle class would be able to withdraw funds from their Employees Provident Fund (EPF) account.
“A package is ready for the poor who need immediate help like migrant workers and urban and rural poor. No one will go hungry. The package is worth Rs 1.7 lakh crore,” Nirmala Sitharaman, who is heading the COVID-19 task force, said at a press conference.
With 941 more COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, India's coronavirus tally crossed the 12,000 mark with the tally reading at 12,380 cases, said the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday. Out of the total tally, 10,477 patients are active cases while 1,489 patients have been cured, discharged and migrated. With 37 more deaths reported in the last 24 hours, the death toll has risen to 414.