There are no doubt that the worst affected due to the 21-day lockdown to curd the spread of COVID-19 are the daily wage earners and those in the lower rung of the community. While some NGOs and self-organised groups have taken it upon themselves to provide relief by way of distributing food and other essentials, the government’s big announcement on a relief package is eagerly awaited.
The Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had hinted at her last media interaction that sooner rather than later, she would come out with the announcements.
As per a Business Standard report, one of the measures could be a one-time transfer of Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,000 to the 100 million odd poorest families through a direct bank transfer. This may entail an outgo of Rs 60,000 crore from the exchequer.
Reuters reports that the overall size of the Coronavirus relief package could be of the other of Rs 1,50,000 crore to Rs 2,30,000 crore. There are indications that this announcement may come through before the end of this week.
It may be recalled that the Prime Minister had announced at the time of his first address to the nation on the subject when he called for the 14-hour lockdown on March 22 that he had formed a high-power committee under the Finance Minister to consider the financial implications of the lockdown and come up with the relief measures.
There has been widespread demand that the monthly EMIs against loans etc. be deferred so that the credit scores are not affected. This may be acceded to in the FM’s announcement, it is expected. This will mean helping the banks with the funds they will stand to lose. The loans covered in this may be of individuals, apart from MSMEs.
It is also learnt that the government may take to borrowing funds to meet this unbudgeted outgo.