The government is working towards an Emergency COVID Response Preparedness (ECRP-2) package to boost the economy which was badly hit by the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in April-May. The ECRP-2 package of more than Rs 20,000 crore is aimed at containing or minimising a possible third wave of infections in the country, according to a report in The Economic Times.
“The idea is to prepare in advance for another possible wave and halt its spread,” a senior government official was cited as having said, in the financial daily. The Health and Finance Ministry is working to finetune the package, and it will be announced after a nod from the cabinet, the report said.
The package will focus on augmenting dedicated COVID-19 treatment facilities, including ramping up of hospital beds, strengthening procurement of essential medical equipment and drugs, bolstering the national and the state health infrastructure, and setting up more laboratories and testing centres, ET said.
The measures may be likely introduced in June-July. It may include a scheme to promote health infra in tier 2 cities, and an increased Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) limit of 4.5 lakh crore are likely to be announced around June - July, said CNBC-TV18 citing sources.
The Cabinet nod for up to Rs 31,000 crore government guarantee for ‘bad bank’ structure is also in process, sources were cited as having said to the business channel.
Centre to monitor COVID-19 infection data
On June 24, Principal Economic Advisor to the Finance Ministry, Sanjeev Sanyal said the Centre will closely monitor COVID-19 infection data for six weeks to chart the path it needs to walk for economic intervention, rather than making announcements based on projections of the third wave of the pandemic, PTI said.
Sanyal made the statement amid criticism of the government for its alleged poor planning which led to hardship to people and the economy.
On June 20, Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) K V Subramanian said the government is open to coming out with more measures to boost the economy which has been hit by the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
He, however, added that the demand for a fresh stimulus package has to be considered against the backdrop of a host of initiatives taken by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her budget for 2021-22 presented in February.
"Like last year, we do remain very open to coming up with more measures as well...but I think it is really important to take into account the big differences between last year and this year when we talk about stimulus," he told PTI in an interview.
According to an assessment by the Reserve Bank of India, the second wave has cost the nation about Rs 2 lakh crore in terms of output lost.