All eyes on how Govt restarts economy with extended lockdown
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to address the nation at 10 am on Tuesday to throw light on how the Government proposes to keep the country under lockdown and reopen the industry and business activities in the country.
A day after the Commerce Ministry proposed opening up most of the industries with safeguards, Road and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said the Government is seeking ways to resume construction of highways and arterial roads in districts least impacted by the coronavirus outbreak as it charts out a plan to revive Asia’s third-largest economy.
Even as there is gradual rise in the numbers of cases affected by coronavirus, the Central Government is considering easing some restrictions during the likely extended duration beyond April 14 and a revival plan for economy may also be on table.
The Modi Government will run special train and bus services for agricultural labour and farm industry workers. Special package is being worked out for the labourers working during the lockdown period in the wake of Covid-19 threat, according to Government officials.
Essential industrial sectors would also be opened for ensuring that the key economic sectors are also kept running. PM Modi has directed all Ministers and officials above Joint Secretary rank to resume work from this week to work towards a post-lockdown economic revival.
The Government has allowed inter-State movement of trucks and States like Odisha and Punjab have given permission to harvesting, irrigation, transport of seeds and agriculture products, agriculture machineries and cold storage.
In some States, construction of highways may also be exempted from the total shutdown. Districts which are away from the urban centres and where there have been zero Covid-19 cases may be exempted from the lockdown and construction activity of roads should be allowed as it is essential for any economy.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) are also in discussions with various States to evaluate the situation on the ground.
Some States and districts had sought permission to start road construction work where the density of population is low. They had also said the guidelines of social distancing would be followed to commence the project.
The view in the Government is it needs to move fast and introduce some fiscal measures that can assure money will still flow into the bank accounts of those affected individuals and small businesses and keep them afloat with cash flow happening even during lockdown on a daily basis, sources said.
According to sources, leeway would be given to unorganised sector that constitutes 65 to 70 per cent of country’s economy where workers have lost their wages and jobs during the ongoing lockdown. Relaxation will be accorded to small-and-medium enterprises too.
Tuesday, 14 April 2020 | PNS | New Delhi
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