Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, reacting to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcements for small businesses hit by the coronavirus crisis and weeks of lockdown, said creating positivity in the circumstances was a challenge.
“We have to understand the art of living with corona. This is not a natural virus. It is artificial virus. This is a virus from the laboratory. Countries are struggling to create a vaccine. With this vaccine we can alleviate fear and resolve problem,” Nitin Gadkari said in an interview to NDTV.
Mr Gadkari, the Minister in charge of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, said migrants left due to fear and expressed hope that they would return when businesses reopen. “We need to fight coronavirus but we are also fighting an economic war. We are a poor country and can’t increase the lockdown from month to month,” he said.
The government announced Rs 3 lakh crore of collateral-free loans for small businesses and a Rs 30,000 crore lifeline to non-bank and housing finance companies as part of measures to help revive an economy battered by the coronavirus lockdown.
Also, it cut the tax rate on non-salary payments by 25 per cent, extended support to companies to meet statutory liability on employees’ retirement fund, provided a Rs 90,000 crore bailout to cash-starved electricity distribution companies and gave construction firms up to six more months to complete the government projects.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a Rs 20 lakh crore package to help various sectors tide over the virus crisis.
Today’s announcement was the first of many measures to be unveiled in the coming days by the Finance Minister.
Also the definition of MSMEs has been changed from a pure investment-based one to that provides for higher investments and turnover for companies to remain as small businesses, and avail financial and other incentives.
Small and mid-sized businesses in India account for about a third of gross domestic product and employ more than 11 crore people and the package announced on Wednesday is aimed at helping them overcome coronavirus disruptions.