The government needs to, urgently, come up with a comprehensive coronavirus contingency economic plan — to keep businesses viable — including through tax relief and extension of deadlines on loan repayments, among other measures(Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)
The government needs to, urgently, come up with a comprehensive coronavirus contingency economic plan — to keep businesses viable — including through tax relief and extension of deadlines on loan repayments, among other measures(Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)

Covid-19: Draw up a new economic plan | HT Editorial

Covid-19 will hurt incomes across the board. Be proactive
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times
PUBLISHED ON MAR 18, 2020 06:41 PM IST

Few events have united people, communities, and countries across the world as the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19). There is still a lot that is not known about it — how much it will spread; how many people may die; when it will subside. But there is one, clear, inescapable conclusion. Covid-19, besides testing health systems across the world, will severely contract the global economy. While the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has assessed that global growth could dip by 50 basis points, a recession cannot be ruled out. For India, this is bad news. Struggling with an economic slowdown, the virus will only deepen the crisis.

The roots of the economic contraction are simple. There are a set of measures necessary to keep citizens healthy — social distancing, reduced mobility, work from home mechanisms, closure of public spaces and offices, ban or restrictions on travel. But the same measures slow down the economic engine. Public health measures — which must, of course, remain the top priority, and be followed meticulously and rigorously — are crippling supply chains and reducing the ability of businesses to function. They are also having a direct impact on incomes and demand. Factory output will reduce; retail will shrink; services will suffer; unemployment will rise; spending will dip; some sectors, such as aviation, tourism, hospitality will be devastated; trading arrangements will get hit; productivity will decrease; markets will continue crashing; and, if, or when, the disease spreads to rural India, in case of community transmission, agriculture and allied activities will be affected.

The problem is global. The United States, for instance, is preparing for a fiscal stimulus, and even considering, direct cash handouts. It has proposed a $850-billion stimulus package. In India, the problem is particularly acute, because a large section of the population operates in the informal economy. Daily wage workers have no financial cushion, especially given the weak or non-existent social security net. The government needs to, urgently, come up with a comprehensive coronavirus contingency economic plan — to keep businesses viable — including through tax relief and extension of deadlines on loan repayments, among other measures; and, provision of income support, if necessary, to the more marginalised segments of the population to meet their basic livelihood needs. The economy will get worse before it gets better. Be prepared.

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This newspaper has consistently warned against maximalism shown by farm groups — and their unwillingness to reciprocate even as the government has stepped back, substantially, on the farm laws (PTI)
This newspaper has consistently warned against maximalism shown by farm groups — and their unwillingness to reciprocate even as the government has stepped back, substantially, on the farm laws (PTI)

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Justice P Ganediwala held that since there was no skin-to-skin contact, this did not fall within the ambit of Pocso (Bhushan Koyande)

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This liberal democratic design has served India well. But the Republic can only work well if all pillars of the Constitution function in letter and spirit (Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)

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On Thursday, the day when the index crossed 50,000, India’s price-earnings multiple (a measure of whether a stock is overvalued or undervalued) was 34.36. (REUTERS)

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Farmers take part in a protest against the newly passed farm laws on the outskirts of Delhi, December 17, 2020 (REUTERS)

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The government retreated. Protesting groups should have reciprocated. In a democracy, farm groups exercised their right to protest — but they should not take over the rights of a sovereign Parliament and an elected government, and dictate terms from the streets.
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Delhi’s air quality slipped into the “severe” category on Tuesday, for the sixth time this month (Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)

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A medical worker inoculates a nurse with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine, Osmania General Hospital, Hyderabad, January 18, 2021. (AFP)
A medical worker inoculates a nurse with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine, Osmania General Hospital, Hyderabad, January 18, 2021. (AFP)

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By
UPDATED ON JAN 20, 2021 06:11 AM IST
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Farm unions have not responded to the government’s offer to amend the laws, or to the Supreme Court’s directive to cooperate with a committee meant to examine the issue in detail (PTI)
Farm unions have not responded to the government’s offer to amend the laws, or to the Supreme Court’s directive to cooperate with a committee meant to examine the issue in detail (PTI)

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UPDATED ON JAN 19, 2021 06:20 AM IST
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According to a news report, US President-elect Joe Biden has appointed at least 20 Indian-Americans, with 17 of them in White House positions — 13 of the 20 also happen to be women. (AFP)

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A health worker carries a carton containing vaccines during the delivery of the first consignment of 1,000 vials of Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN, Jaipur, January 13, 2021 (Himanshu Vyas/ Hindustan Times)
A health worker carries a carton containing vaccines during the delivery of the first consignment of 1,000 vials of Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN, Jaipur, January 13, 2021 (Himanshu Vyas/ Hindustan Times)

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