Coronavirus- ‘Consider cash payouts for poor’: Industrialists to PM amid Covid-19 crisis
Amid coronavirus outbreak, the delegation of industrialists asked the government to transfer cash into the bank accounts of those earning below ₹5 lakh a year. They requested that all citizens be given cash through direct benefit transfer to their accounts.Updated: Mar 24, 2020 19:34 IST
Indian industry leaders met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday and requested a package of about ₹2-3 lakh crore to provide direct cash transfer to millions of people belonging to the unorganised sector who have lost their jobs because of the crisis triggered by the (coronavirus disease) Covid-19 outbreak.
The industrialists also sought a three-month moratorium on all loan payments and asked for the suspension of repayment obligations for this period.
The delegation asked the government to transfer cash into the bank accounts of those earning below ₹5 lakh a year. They requested that all citizens be given cash through direct benefit transfer to their accounts. While those below 25 years of age can be given a one-time payment of ₹5,000, senior citizens above 65 years of age can be given ₹10,000, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) recommended to the Prime Minister
According to an official statement, PM Modi praised the industry leaders for speaking in one voice on the needs of the unorganised sector and called it “a new dawn of economic integration”.
“The PM asked the industry to send their suggestions in writing so that he could take appropriate action,” a person with knowledge of the matter said on condition of anonymity. The PM met representatives of associations such as CII, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry and ASSOCHAM via video-conferencing.
The representatives also thanked the Prime Minister for leading from the front and taking swift action to counter the Covid-19 threat.
Vikram Kirloskar, president, CII, said the industry informed Modi about initiatives taken by businessmen. “Our initiatives to help the economically deprived people, particularly our commitment to not retrench any worker including blue collar and contract workers, resonated well with PM Modi, who appreciated our efforts,” he said.
They informed Modi about the steps being taken by them to maintain supply lines of essential items and medical equipment such as ventilators; assistance extended in the creation of isolation wards; utilisation of corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds for combating Covid-19; and provision of assistance to migrant labourers. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has relaxed CSR fund norms so that companies can spend money from the corpus to fight Covid-19.
The Prime Minister told them that while the government was working on giving a fillip to the pace of growth in the country, an unforeseen hurdle in the form of Covid-19 came to the fore. “The challenge posed by the pandemic is graver than even that posed by the world wars and we need to be on constant vigil to prevent its spread,” the statement quoting PM Modi said.
Modi said that several sectors such as tourism, construction, hospitality and daily life engagements, including the informal sector, have been hit due to Covid-19. “Its impact on the economy will be felt for some time to come,” he said.
They discussed the specific issues being faced by sectors such as banking, finance, hospitality, tourism and infrastructure, and requested help to overcome challenges through financial and fiscal assistance.
Industry representatives also appreciated the importance of instituting a lockdown, irrespective of economic losses, to prevent the spread of the virus. The meeting was also attended by the principal secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office, the cabinet secretary and the industry secretary.
Industrialist Uday Kotak spoke about the Covid Rehabilitation Fund and said the micro and small industries would need hand-holding. “The CII Covid Rehabilitation and Relief Fund (CRR) will be an industry-led initiative to work with the MSME sector,” he said.