In a big push to revive the COVID-hit economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced massive new financial incentives on top of the previously announced packages for a combined stimulus of Rs 20 lakh crore, saying the coronavirus crisis has provided India an opportunity to become self-reliant and emerge as the best in the world.
Apart from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) assistance, thegovernment had last month announced a Rs 1.74 lakh crore to provide benefits tothe poor, including cash transfers, Rs 50 lakh insurance cover and steps toensure food security.
In a televised address tothe nation, Modi also said there will be a fourth phase of the lockdown whichwill be very different from the earlier three phases. The third phase of thelockdown is scheduled to end on May 17.
About the financial package, the prime minister said it willbe around 10 percent of the GDP and "will play an important role in the'Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan' (self-reliant India campaign), adding that the"announcements made by the government so far, the decisions of the RBI andtoday's package totals to Rs 20 lakh crores".
The special economic package will have emphasis on land,labour, liquidity and laws, and will be for "our labourers, farmers,honest tax payers, MSMEs and cottage industry", Modi said.
India's self-reliance will be based on five pillars —economy, infrastructure, technology driven system, vibrant demography anddemand, he said.
The prime minister also hinted at big-ticket economic reforms in coming days, and said beginning Wednesday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will announce details of the special economic package.
Modisaid getting fatigued or exhausted was not an option in confronting theunprecedented challenge posed by the pandemic and India has to make sincereefforts to become a self-reliant nation by transforming the crisis into anopportunity.
Assertingthat just one virus has destroyed the world, Modi said the pandemic hasprovided an opportunity to India to become self-reliant and emerge as apowerful country globally in the 21st century.
"Weare standing at a crucial juncture. This crisis has a message for us. It hasprovided us an opportunity," he said, asserting that "we have toprotect ourselves and move ahead as well".
India'sself-reliance addresses concerns about world's happiness, cooperation andpeace, Modi said, adding medicines supplied by India have infused new hopes inthe world which is fighting battle of life and death.
Hesaid when the crisis began, not a single Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)kit was made in India and today the country was producing PPEs.
Theprime minister's address to the nation came a day after he held a marathonsix-hour meeting with chief ministers on the road ahead after May 17 when the54-day nationwide lockdown is due to end.
Therehave been growing demands by industries, workers and several political leadersto withdraw the lockdown as it has been having a devastating effect on theeconomy and livelihoods of a large section of people.
Duringtheir interaction with Modi on Monday, several chief ministers favouredextending the lockdown while a number of others pitched for allowing economicactivities to resume to provide relief to millions of poor hit by the stringentmeasure.