Captains of Indian industry lauded finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcement of a ₹1.7 lakh crore relief package for the country’s poor called the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, which was unveiled on March 26, and said that this will provide a much-needed safety net to the most vulnerable section of India’s population.
“The relief package announced by the Honourable FM today is timely, well-intentioned and has combined both cash transfers and primary food requirements for the marginalised sections of society for the next three months,” Rajnish Kumar, chairman, State Bank of India, said. “Overall it’s a very well-defined package reinforcing the government’s intent that no one should be deprived of basic facilities in today’s stressed times. We are hopeful of more calibrated responses in coming weeks as the impact of pandemic unfolds.”
Harsh Goenka, chairman, RPG Enterprises, said that the government’s decision to first ensure that the poor don’t go hungry and suffer from want of financial liquidity, before announcing relief measures for industry, was exactly how the government’s response should have been. “Majority of the jobs in India are in the informal sector, which is not functioning at present. Appropriate steps have been taken to safeguard their interest,” Goenka said. “I am glad that the government has announced a direct transfer of cash and the provision of free rice, pulses and gas is also a good gesture of compassion.”
One of the sectors that have been worst hit during this period of the Covid-19 pandemic is real estate. With construction activity coming to a complete halt across the country, labourers–mostly daily wage earners–employed in this sector find themselves without livelihood. “The move to utilise an existing ₹31,000 crore welfare fund for the benefit of 3.5 crore construction workers will provide much-needed relief for the real estate sector,” said Surendra Hiranandani, chairman and managing director, House of Hiranandani.