Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is chairing a Group of Ministers (GoM) meeting in Delhi this evening to discuss the economic situation and implementation of the Rs 20 lakh crore fiscal relief package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the coronavirus-hit Indian economy.
Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal are among those attending the meeting.
Hours before the meeting started Ms Sitharaman told news agency ANI that the government had put great thought into the relief measures announced for different sectors of the economy, and that these are on par with those announced by other countries, including developed nations.
“Before doing this, we compared every announcement made by different countries to see what their packages consisted of. Every country has brought in a basket of measures – fiscal, monetary, guarantees, central liquidity and so on,” the Finance Minister said.
“We are not all that different… proportions might vary. When developed countries have certain institutions, it is possible for them to go through one route and play less on the other. India has great advantage in terms of technology, transfer of cash… That is how, through PM Garib Kalyan, we could infuse cash into hands of people,” she added.
Ms Sitharaman also pointed out that other countries were also trying to infuse liquidity through central bank measures – something the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced Friday, while warning that India’s GDP could contract further this financial year and “is estimated to remain in negative territory” in the next.
The Rs 20 lakh crore package, described by the Prime Minister as being worth 10 per cent of the GDP and details of which were released by Ms Sitharaman over five tranches of announcements this week, has been criticised by the opposition. Congress leader P Chidambaram has been among its most vocal critics, arguing it “has left several sections high and dry”.
“… a fiscal stimulus of Rs 1,86,650 crore amounting to barely 0.91 per cent of GDP will be totally inadequate given the gravity of the economic crisis and the dire situation in which people find themselves,” the former Finance Minister said in a statement released this week.
The GoM headed by Mr Singh has met on multiple occasions so far, with one meeting earlier this month reviewing recommendations on the phased lifting of lockdown restrictions. This was before the government extended the coronavirus lockdown to May 31.
With input from ANI