India to provide US$266 billion to boost pandemic-hit economy

Wednesday, 2020-05-13 11:48:25
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A group of students wearing protective masks walk outside a railway station amid coronavirus fears in Kochi, India. (Photo: Reuters)
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday (May 12) that India would provide INR20 trillion (US$266 billion) in fiscal and monetary measures to support an economy battered by a sweeping weeks-long lockdown to fight the novel coronavirus.

India has more than 70,000 cases among its 1.3 billion population and is set to surpass China, the origin of the outbreak, within a week. Modi said strict stay-at-home orders would be extended beyond May 17 with a new set of rules.

In an address to the nation, he said the package was equivalent to 10% of India's gross domestic product, and was aimed at the multitudes out of work and the businesses reeling under the prolonged shutdown.

In March, the government said it was providing around INR1.7 trillion (US$22.6 billion) in direct cash transfers and food security measures, mainly for the poor.

Modi said details of the new package, as well as reforms of land and labour markets, would be released within days:

"The package will also focus on land, labour, liquidity and laws. It will cater to various sections including cottage industry, medium and small enterprises, labourers, middle class, industries, among others."