Abhijit Banerjee points holes in FinMin relief package: Bigger one required if lockdown persists

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Published: April 1, 2020 1:10:53 PM

Nobel laureate economist Abhijit Banerjee has pointed out gaps in Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s economic relief package aimed towards helping the most vulnerable sections of the society amid lockdown.

migrant workers, migrant workers exodus, migrant workers exodus in delhi, migrant labourers, coronavirus lockdown, kannauj district, covid 19 pandemic, latest news on coronavirusFM Sitharaman had announced Rs 1.7 lakh crore relief package for migrant workers, women, disabled people and daily wage earners as the country has been put under a lockdown. (IE photo)

Nobel laureate economist Abhijit Banerjee has pointed out gaps in Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s economic relief package aimed towards helping the most vulnerable sections of the society amid lockdown. “It is a package that assumes that the crisis will be over in a couple of weeks. Even for India’s very poor Indians, Rs 500 is nothing. It is not quite there,” he said in an interview to CNBC TV-18. If the coronavirus situation persists and the lockdown is for longer than a couple of weeks, a bigger package will be required, he added. Stating that the government should have moved earlier and on more fronts, he said he feels “more strongly about being expansionary now than being tight-fisted.”

Earlier, FM Sitharaman had announced Rs 1.7 lakh crore relief package for migrant workers, women, disabled people and daily wage earners as the country has been put under a lockdown. The relief package is in the form of cash transfers and food security. For women Jan Dhan account holders, the government had announced Rs 500 for a family and extra grains and gas cylinders in the coming three months to help them tide over the crisis. 

The government had earlier announced that essential services will continue. Speaking on the same, Abhijit Banerjee said that the government must not have given mixed signals about the lockdown as it created confusion. “This idea that shops will be open but no one can go out … the police were confused and there were reports of police shutting down shops… there was a lack of clarity in some of the announcements,” he said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the national lockdown on 24th March 2020.

Meanwhile, the cases of the coronavirus have crossed 1,500 in India and the country has reported 45 deaths so far. 

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