Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is chairing a Group of Ministers (GoM) meeting in Delhi to discuss execution of the government's Rs 20 lakh crore relief package for the coronavirus-hit Indian economy. Sources have told NDTV aid to MSMEs (micro, medium and small enterprises) will be the focus, with draft details of schemes and guidelines from various ministries set to be finalised today.
Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal are among those attending the meeting.
Last week Ms Sitharaman said 45 lakh MSMEs (those with turnovers up to Rs 100 crore till October 31) would get Rs 3 lakh crores in collateral-free loans as part of the stimulus package.
Hours before the meeting started she told news agency ANI the government had put great thought into relief measures announced for different sectors of the economy, and that these are on par with those announced by other countries, including developed nations.
"Before doing this, we compared every announcement made by different countries to see what their packages consisted of. Every country has brought in a basket of measures - fiscal, monetary, guarantees, central liquidity and so on," the Finance Minister said.
"We are not all that different... proportions might vary. When developed countries have certain institutions, it is possible for them to go through one route and play less on the other. India has great advantage in terms of technology, transfer of cash..." she added.
Before doing this we've compared every announcement made by different countries before us to see what their package consisted of. All that has been studied. Every country has brought in basket of measures-fiscal, monetary, guarantee, central liquidty & so on: FM #EconomicPackagepic.twitter.com/G1ljcgGleS— ANI (@ANI) May 23, 2020
Ms Sitharaman also pointed out other countries were also trying to infuse liquidity through central bank measures - something the RBI announced Friday, while warning that India's GDP could contract further this financial year and "is estimated to remain in negative territory" in the next.
The Rs 20 lakh crore package, described by the Prime Minister as being worth 10 per cent of the GDP and details of which were released by Ms Sitharaman over five tranches of announcements this week, has been criticised by the opposition.
Congress leader P Chidambaram has been among its most vocal critics, arguing it "has left several sections high and dry".
"... a fiscal stimulus of Rs 1,86,650 crore amounting to barely 0.91 per cent of GDP will be totally inadequate given the gravity of the economic crisis and the dire situation in which people find themselves," the former Finance Minister said in a statement released this week.
The GoM headed by Mr Singh has met on multiple occasions so far, with one meeting earlier this month reviewing recommendations on the phased lifting of lockdown restrictions. This was before the government extended the coronavirus lockdown to May 31.
With input from ANI