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Centre makes major announcements to combat COVID-19 pandemicPrime Minister had called for a complete lockdown of the entire nation with effect from 25 March 2020 in an effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The lockdown has impacted the economy in a big way.

In a move to help various sectors, the Centre had made major announcements and relief packages for various sectors. In order to strengthen the Healthcare sector, the Central government announced a provision of Rs 15,000 crore for treating Coronavirus patients and strengthening medical infrastructure of the country. The funds have been utilised for ramping up the number of testing facilities, personal protective equipments (PPEs), isolation beds, ICU beds, ventilators and other essential equipments.

Another significant announcement was made for creation of COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force under the Union Finance Minister. The Task Force will consult stakeholders, take feedback on the basis of which decisions will be taken to meet the challenges. The Task Force will also ensure implementation of the decisions taken to meet these challenges.

Following the major announcement by the Prime Minister, within 36 hours, the Union Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman announced a mega relief package worth Rs 1.70 lakh crore under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana.

Under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package, a special insurance coverage of Rs 50 lakh per person was introduced for health workers in government hospitals and health care centres. Apart from this, additional food grains, wheat or rice along with pulses; free cooking gas cylinders under the Ujjwala Scheme; support the handicapped, senior citizens; first installment under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi, among others were also announced.

Following this, on 27 March 2020, another major announcement was made by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The apex bank made an announcement to infuse Rs 3.74 lakh crore liquidity into the financial system through various measures. RBI had earlier injected liquidity of Rs 2.8 lakh crore in financial markets through various instruments which was equivalent to 1.4 percent of GDP.

In the next announcement, RBI also decided to conduct targeted long-term repo operations (TLTRO 2.0) for an aggregate amount of Rs 50,000 crore to begin with, in tranches of appropriate sizes. The central bank also decided to provide special refinance facilities for a total amount of Rs 50,000 crore to the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) (Rs 25,000 crore), the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) (Rs 15,000 crore) and the National Housing Bank (NHB) (Rs 10,000 crore) to enable them to meet sectoral credit needs.

It also announced all commercial banks (including regional rural banks, small finance banks and local area banks), co-operative banks, all-India financial institutions, and NBFCs (including housing finance companies and micro-finance institutions) were permitted to allow a moratorium of three months on payment of installments in respect of all term loans outstanding as on 1 March 2020.

After the three phases of the lockdown, the Prime Minister called for the next phase — Lockdown 4.0. The fourth stage of Lockdown will be completely different from those earlier and on the basis of recommendations received from states, new rules are being framed.


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