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Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Sitharaman meets PM to discuss measures to support industries

  • Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman says the govt is closely monitoring the effect of the epidemic on the economy
  • Government devising ways in which India can be self-sufficient in raw materials by setting up manufacturing units

NEW DELHI : Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss measures to support the industry and tackle disruption from the Covid-19 epidemic.

“The meeting was held to discuss ways to support industries such as pharma that will be impacted by the outbreak of the disease," a government official said.

Besides, as part of a long-term strategy, the government is devising ways in which India can be self-sufficient in raw materials by setting up manufacturing units in the country.

“The industry should make the best use of this opportunity so that some manufacturing can shift from China to India," the official said.

Last week, Sitharaman told reporters that the finance ministry is closely monitoring the impact of the epidemic on the Indian economy. Mint had reported that top finance ministry officials met on 29 February to assess feedback from different arms of the government handling aviation, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, textiles, information technology and heavy industries on ways to deal with the epidemic.

Modi tweeted on Tuesday, “Had an extensive review regarding preparedness on the Covid-19 Novel Coronavirus. Different ministries & states are working together, from screening people arriving in India to providing prompt medical attention."

The epidemic spreading to a large number of countries has added to economic uncertainties and disruption in global trade. The development comes at a time when the Indian economy grew at its slowest pace in more than six years at 4.7% in the December quarter.

On Monday, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) slashed India’s growth forecast for 2020-21 by 1.1 percentage points to 5.1%, warning that the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on business confidence, financial markets and the travel sector, including disruption to supply chains, could shave 50 bps off global growth in 2020.

Since it was first reported in late December in China, the number of people infected has now topped 92,000 globally, and while more than 80,000 of these are in China, infections in other countries, especially Italy, Iran, South Korea and Japan, have seen an alarming rise. While there have been no deaths in India at the moment, currently, three individuals are undergoing treatment for the virus and three cases earlier detected in Kerala have recovered.

Covid-19, commonly referred to as the novel coronavirus, has been spreading fast and claiming more lives and has impacted the financial markets.

Earlier in the day, the central bank said it is monitoring global and domestic developments around Covid-19 closely and continuously and is ready to take appropriate actions.

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