Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday underlined the need for new structural reforms and expedite work on infrastructure projects to revive the economy reeling under the impact of coronavirus-induced lockdown.
He made these observations during a series of meetings held on Saturday to discuss strategies and interventions in the financial sector as well as structural reforms to spur growth and welfare in the current context.
The series of meetings with key Cabinet ministers, officials of economic ministries is likely to culminate into a second stimulus package for sectors, including MSME and the farm sector, hit hard by the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
Dwelling on the issue of welfare of workers and the common man, the Prime Minister pointed out the need to generate gainful employment opportunities by helping businesses overcome difficulties due to disruptions caused by COVID-19, an official statement said.
The Prime Minister also stressed on the need to strengthen major structural reforms undertaken in the past and new structural reforms in the areas of corporate governance, credit markets and infrastructure sectors were also discussed, it said.
He also stressed the need to take speedy measures to commence work on new infrastructure projects and speed up works in the infrastructure sector so as to make up for the time lost in COVID-19.
He wanted the projects taken up under the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) be reviewed at the highest level frequently to avoid time delays and enable the creation of jobs.
The task force on NIP has recently submitted a report which projected a staggering Rs 111 lakh crore investment in the infrastructure sector by 2024-25.
The statement further said that it was also discussed that the reform initiatives undertaken by the various Ministries should continue unabated and the action should be taken in a time-bound manner to remove any obstacles to investment flows and capital formation.
The meeting was attended by the Home Minister, the Finance Minister, Secretaries of the Ministry of Finance along with senior officials of the Government of India.
At a meeting with the finance minister and officials, the prime minister discussed strategies and interventions to support MSMEs and farmers, enhance liquidity and strengthen credit flows. He also discussed ways and means to ensure financial stability in the wake of COVID-19 and measures taken to enable businesses to recover quickly from the impacts.
Earlier in the day, MSME Minister Nitin Gadkari said that his ministry has suggested a relief package to the prime minister and the finance minister for the medium, small and micro sector and exuded confidence that an announcement would be made soon.
“Chaired a meeting on strengthening our MSME sector, which plays a pivotal role in economic development. There were extensive discussions on ways to make this sector more vibrant, attractive and ready to embrace new opportunities,” the prime minister said in a tweet after the meeting.
The Prime Minister in another tweet said, “Held a meeting to discuss subjects related to the financial world, including structural reforms that will give a boost to growth and public welfare. We reviewed strategies to support the MSME sector and ensure liquidity & credit supply.”
The central government is focused on ensuring welfare of workers, helping businesses overcome the difficulties arising in the wake of COVID-19, reforms in corporate governance, credit markets and the infra sector, he said.
During another meeting concerning the farm sector, various reforms in agriculture marketing, management of marketable surplus, access of farmers to institutional credit and freeing the agriculture sector of various restrictions with appropriate backing of the statute were discussed.
The focus was on making strategic interventions in the existing marketing eco-system and bringing appropriate reforms in the context of rapid agricultural development, an official statement said.
“Concessional credit flow to strengthen agriculture infrastructure, special Kisan Credit Card saturation drive for PM-Kisan beneficiaries and facilitating inter and intra-state trade of agriculture produce to ensure the fairest return to farmer were some of the important areas covered. Developing e-NAM into a platform of platforms to enable e-commerce was one of the important topics of discussion,” it said.
A discussion also emanated on the possibilities of the uniform statutory framework in the country to facilitate new ways for farming which will infuse capital and technology in agrarian economy, it said, adding, the pros and cons of bio-technological developments in crops or enhancement of productivity and reduction in input costs were also deliberated.
During the deliberations, each ministry made recommendations and possible steps to be taken in the short run to prop up the sector administered by them.
After a detailed review of every sector, a relief and stimulus package will be worked out, sources said.
The prime minister already had meetings with different ministries including civil aviation, labour and power on Friday. He had detailed deliberation with commerce and industry ministry among others on Thursday.
To mitigate hardships faced by the bottom of the pyramid, the government in late March had announced a Rs 1.7 lakh crore stimulus package comprising free foodgrains and cooking gas to poor and cash doles to poor women and elderly.