Intent is to Pick Holes: FM on Criticism of COVID-19 Package

Sitharaman was in conversation with BJP party’s Nalin Kohli answering various facets of the economic package.

2 min read
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Satursday, 23 May, underlined that the idea behind the 20 lakh crore economic package under ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ is to restart economic activity, put some cash in peoples hands, and infuse liquidity in the system.

Sitharaman’s comments came in conversation with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s spokesperson Nalin Kohli, answering questions about the various facets of the recently announced economic package to address the fallout of the COVID-19 lockdown.

On being asked about the criticism that the package was “too little, too late,” Sitharaman said that the intent of those making such criticisms is not to understand but to pick holes.

“India has great advantage in terms of technology; transfer of cash and other things are possible. That's how through PM-Garib Kalyan we could infuse cash into hands of people through their Jan Dhan accounts. We have come with measures which will get more liquidity into the economy,” she explained.

‘Analysed Announcements by Different Countries’

Elaborating on the government’s approach, she said the government had heard everybody and then gone about stimulating the economy, restarting companies and giving relaxations.

“Before doing this we have 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 liquidity and so on.”
Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Minister

On being asked about how the automobile, retail and entertainment industries, among others, feel that they were left out, Sitharaman said she did not come up with sectoral divison. “Have not excluded anyone. People in any sector can approach banks and get loans,” she said.

The banks, she said, have been told to disburse loans and not fear the 3Cs: the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).


‘Gave Every Penny to States as Per Budget in April, May’

The Finance Minister also said that the Centre has devolved all the stipulated money to the states in April and May as per the Union Budget for the financial year 2020-21.

She stated that it was wrong to accuse the Centre of not paying attention to the states in the current pandemic situation.

On the criticism by some state governments of lack of attention from the Centre, Sitharaman said: “It's completely untrue and not acceptable at all.”

“The assumptions made in the Budget are already in a state where we will have to review them. Every assumption made in the Budget (2020-21) is at a stage where unless I review them, they are not going to hold good,” she said.

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