"They had brought the economy to its knees even before the pandemic. From both the PM and the FM we were expecting some immediate relief for the working class and the migrants. This has not come. They did not address the issues of joblessness and hunger. The FM's address was just regurging and promotion of the government's economic policy over the last six years which had led to the economic crisis in the first place even before coronavirus," said CPI general secretary D Raja.
FM Nirmala Sitharaman addresses a press conference on the economic package in New Delhi on Wednesday.
For the MSME sector, the minister detailed six measures including the new definition of the sector. Accordingly, the investment limit for defining MSMEs has been revised upwards. Besides, she highlighted that additional criteria such as turnover has been considered for defining MSMEs. The Centre has also decided not to go in for global bidding for government procurement for tenders up to Rs 200 crore, thereby, promoting the participation of MSMEs, she said.
Sitharaman said that the package will spur growth and build a self-reliant India and push local brands to be competitive at the global level, but not make India an isolationist economy. She says that the package to build an 'aatmanirbhar bharat' was realised after long deliberations with all sections of the society.
Today’s was be the first of a series of press briefings by the finance minister in the coming days. The Rs 20 lakh crore sum. which is equal of 10 per cent of India's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), includes Reserve Bank of India's liquidation worth close to Rs 8.04 lakh crore along with Rs 1.7 lakh crore relief package under Gareeb Kalyan Yojana spelled out by Sitharaman last month. The balance of the economic package, details of which are not yet known, then stands at Rs 10.26 lakh crore.
In a televised address to the nation on Tuesday evening, PM Modi had announced Rs 20 lakh crore - equivalent to 10 per cent of India's GDP - in fiscal and monetary measures to support an economy badly hit by the 50-day lockdown to fight the spread of Covid-19.
The PM said the package will focus on land, labour, liquidity and laws and has been designed to keep in mind various segments of the society like the cottage industry, small-scale industry, MSMEs, labourers, farmers, middle-class taxpayers and Indian industries.
He also gave a push to local products, as he said India mission should be becoming self-reliant (Atma Nirbha Bharat). Spelling out the details, Modi had said the self-reliant strategy will depend on five pillars: growing a new economy, creating a state-of-the-art infrastructure, setting up a technology-based delivery system, leveraging the young demography and by exploiting domestic demand. PM Modi had said the details of the package would be shared by Sitharaman.
In a series of tweets after Modi’s address, the finance minister on Tuesday said “this shall not be just a financial package, but a reform stimulus, a mindset overhaul, and a thrust in governance.”
“Indian economy has acquired strength in its various dimensions. Now, we can confidently engage with the world. We aim at overall transformation & not incremental changes. We shall convert the pandemic challenge into an opportunity. #AatmanirbharBharat will integrate not isolate,” Sitharaman had tweeted.
The lockdown imposed on March 24 that led to closure of shops, factories and services, such as tourism, eateries and public transport, led to a devastating impact on the economy with thousands of companies staring at bankruptcy and millions losing their jobs.
Data from the Central Statistics Office showed on May 12 that the country’s unemployment rate touched 27.1 per cent in the week ended May 3 - the highest ever - indicating a bloodbath in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown.
Not surprisingly, India’s factory output, a key measure of economic activity, shrunk by 16.7 per cent, data from the Central Statistics Office showed on May 12, signalling that a widespread shutdown had bit the economy hard.
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