New Delhi | Jagran Business Desk: With the country reeling under an unprecedented COVID-19 wave which has led several states to impose local lockdowns and curfews, the Centre is likely to announce a fresh stimulus package. According to a Hindustan Times report, the package will be aimed at providing relief to the poor if the ongoing second wave of coronavirus disrupts their livelihood. 

The report quoted people familiar with the matter saying that the Union finance ministry, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and other key departments are in touch with stakeholders over the need for and timing for a stimulus.

While a nationwide lockdown does not seem to be in the cards as of now, states like Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh - the worst-hit ones - have imposed a series of restrictions with Maharashtra under a 15-day virtual lockdown. The restrictions are expected to again hit the economy, which grew at its slowest pace in 11 years at 4.2 per cent in 2019-20. 

When India went through a nationwide lockdown last year during the first wave of COVID-19, the Centre had announced a Rs 20 lakh crore package in five tranches, which included Rs 3.70 lakh crore support for MSMEs, Rs 75,000 crore for NBFCs and Rs 90,000 crore for power distribution companies, free foodgrains to migrant workers, increased allocation for MGNREGS, tax relief to certain sections and Rs 15,000 crore allocated to the healthcare sector.

As per the Hindustan Times report which quoted a person aware of the developments saying that the government may also expand its vaccination drive so that the severity and the spread of COVID-19 can be contained.

According to rating agency Fitch, more than 80 per cent of new infections are in six prominent states that account for roughly 45 per cent of banking sector loans. The restrictions imposed in these states are likely to hit both the economic activities as well as the banking services.  

Sitharaman on Tuesday said the government will control the second wave of the pandemic through its test-track-treat-vaccinate strategy, Covid-19-appropriate behaviour and local-level containment without going in for hard and widespread lockdowns. 

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta