Be ready to fight economic impact of COVID19: PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday asked Union ministers to prepare plans to fight the economic impact of COVID-19 on war footing and asserted that this crisis is an opportunity to boost the ‘Make-in-India’ initiative and reduce dependence on other countries.

Chairing the first meeting of the council of ministers via video-conferencing after announcing a 21-day lockdown to combat the coronavirus outbreak, Modi indicated a phased emergence from the lockdown and said that “a graded plan to slowly open departments where hotspots aren’t existing should be made”.

Talking about the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, Modi said that the government must work on war footing to mitigate the impact, adding that the ministries should prepare a business continuity plan, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

Emphasising the need to strategise for the emergent conditions once the lockdown ends, he asked the ministers to prepare a list of ten major decisions and ten priority areas of focus while at the same time identify and implement pending reforms in their ministries.

“Ministries should prepares a Business Continuity Plan and be ready to fight the economic impact of COVID-19 on war footing. The crisis is also an opportunity to boost Make in India and reduce dependence on other countries,” Modi told the ministers, according to the statement.

Highlighting the impact on India’s exports, he asked the ministers to submit actionable suggestions on boosting manufacturing and exports and ensure that new sectors and countries are added in India’s export net.

Discussing the impact of COVID-19 on farmers and harvesting of crops, Modi asked the ministers to explore the use of innovative solutions like ‘truck aggregators’ on the lines of app-based cab services to connect farmers with mandis.

“Welfare of farmers is of high importance. Government would provide all possible help to farmers in the harvesting season,” Modi said and suggested use of technology and encouraging exploration of innovative solutions in agriculture.

The ministers provided feedback to the prime minister on the steps being taken to meet the challenges in tackling the impact of the pandemic and praised the initiative of lighting lamps, saying people from all corners of the country participated in it.