Economic package for COVID-19-hit sectors to be announced soon, says FM Nirmala Sitharaman

She said the ministry will hold an internal meeting on Saturday to firm up the action plan to deal with the crisis.

Economic package for COVID-19-hit sectors to be announced soon, says FM Nirmala Sitharaman

New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday (March 20) said that an economic package for the coronavirus-hit sectors will be announced "as soon as possible", but did not give any timeline by when the package will be unveiled. On Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation had said that the government will be setting up a 'Covid-19 Economic Response Task Force' to decide on a relief package for sectors hit by the COVID-19.

Speaking to reporters after four-hour meeting with ministers and officials of different ministries to take stock of the situation, the Finance Minister said, "I had a meeting with tourism, MSME, civil aviation, animal husbandry sectors. These ministries presented an assessment of their sector after consultation with their stakeholders."

She said the ministry will hold an internal meeting on Saturday to firm up the action plan to deal with the crisis.

When asked by when the package will be announced, she said, "it will be difficult to give a timeline but it will be done as soon as possible." 

On the task force announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she said, "Taskforce is not yet constituted but keeping in mind the sense of urgency, the ministry was holding this meeting. Of course, when the task force is constituted it will also get the benefit of these meetings. Other ministries are also sending us their suggestions." 

About relief measures for the financial sector, Sitharaman said, "SEBI has come up with a list of regulations which will also sort of keep the markets a bit stable. But I can't say what I am doing for the markets. At the moment, we are at a critical stage of collecting everybody's inputs and also the ministry is working in detail about all the inputs which have come."

Earlier on Thursday, Covid-19 economic response task force was set up under the Finance Minister to assess the requirements of various sectors and also oversee implementation of the proposed measures.

The decision was taken in the wake of the severe impact of Covid-19 on several sectors, including aviation, hospitality, and tourism along with the overall economy.

The task force would look at measures, such as extension of loan tenors for the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and relaxing NPA (non-performing assets) norms, while on the taxation part, GST may be waived on hospitality and tourism sectors.

(With Agency Inputs)