India took host of measures to combat COVID-19 impact: Sitharaman to World Bank

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October 16, 2020 9:43 PM

Participating in the 102nd meeting of the World Bank Development Committee Plenary, Sitharaman said the COVID-19 pandemic, which started before its last meeting in April, continues to impact the developing and developed countries.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

 

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said the government has taken a host of initiatives, including a stimulus package totalling 10 per cent of the country’s GDP and major reforms in the labour sector, to combat the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Participating in the 102nd meeting of the World Bank Development Committee Plenary, Sitharaman said the COVID-19 pandemic, which started before its last meeting in April, continues to impact the developing and developed countries.

The hard fought gains in reducing the level of poverty, achieved over a number of years, are at great risk of being lost, she added. The Government of India has taken several measures to contain the spread of pandemic, and also to mitigate its social and economic impact, Sitharaman said.

The government had announced the first stimulus of USD 23 billion to provide direct cash transfers and food security measures to poor, she said.

This was followed by a special economic package of USD 271 billion — equivalent to 10 per cent of India’s GDP — based on a clarion call by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ or self-reliant India, she pointed out.

“Measures have been announced to provide relief to the business, bring about major reforms in the labour sector by simplifying, amalgamating and rationalising 44 central labour laws, provide effective social protection to the migrant workers through National Portability of ration cards,” she said, as per a statement issued by the finance ministry.

The rural sector has been provided support by way of refinance support through NABARD, injection of additional liquidity of USD 27.13 billion in the farm sector and by way of increased allocation for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), she said.

With regard to strengthening of health infrastructure in the wake of the pandemic, the finance minister said the government has committed USD 2.03 billion for this. Being a responsible member of the global fraternity, India is ready to share its experience and also play a leading role in the South Asian region as part of its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, she noted.

The finance minister stated that collective action is the key for effective response to the pandemic and welcomed the strong performance in Q4 of FY 2020 wherein World Bank Group has committed USD 45 billion for COVID-19 response.

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