Punjab lost about Rs 1,200-1,700 crore of GDP per day during the first days of lockdown, informed the state's task force on Tuesday. The Coronavirus lockdown which has lasted for over a month now and still continues has severely impacted economic activities across the state with the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector being the worst-hit. The report also stated that manufacturing, agriculture, investment and trade sectors are expected to be adversely impacted even after the lockdown ends.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh set up the task force to find ways for the state to gradually get out of the unprecedented lockdown that is still in place to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The 20-member task force, led by former IAS officer K.R. Lakhanpal, was tasked with suggesting measures, both in the short-term and medium-term, to address the public policy challenges for dealing with the COVID-19 epidemic.
The report has also warned that April-May period is very crucial as it is the harvesting time of Rabi and Kharif crops, adding that if the restrictions are not eased then it may impact food security of the entire country. The Task Force has also hoped for the states to achieve greater autonomy in deciding the future course of action. It also recommends that the lockdown exit strategy be classified into health and non-health related objectives.
The Punjab government on Monday took initial steps towards forming the economic revival strategy in the state after COVID-19 lockdown ends. A group of experts led by Montek Singh Ahluwalia set up five sub-groups while former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh accepted CM Amarinder Singh’s request to provide overall guidance in restoring the state’s growth and economy. During a video conference with the Group of Experts, the Chief Minister disclosed that he had written to Dr Manmohan Singh to guide the state government along with the experts, and he had kindly accepted.