ASSOCHAM today welcomed several key measures announced by Finance Minister Mrs Nirmala Sitharaman , aimed at providing relief to the sectors hit hard by the Covid 19 pandemic. The chamber described the Rs 6.29 lakh crore package as the ”lifeline dose” to a wide number of sectors, expressing confidence that the relief would help faster recovery in the economy .
” Monetary expansion of the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) by Rs 1.50 lakh crore, as sought by ASSOCHAM through various presentations to the government, would provide immediate relief to the MSMEs which require immediate working capital with unlocking of the economy in several states,” ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr Deepak Sood said. He said the chamber would thank Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Mrs Sitharaman and Minister of State for Finance Mr Anurag Thakur for the relief package.
He said on top of ECLGS, Loan Guarantee Scheme for Covid affectors sectors, to the tune of Rs 1.10 lakh crore and Rs 7500 crore credit guarantee for the micro finance institutions would provide further relief to the businesses hit hard by the pandemic. ” The important point would also be an aggressive outreach to the MSMEs. Here , the role of banks, state governments and even business chambers like ASSOCHAM would make a decisive difference”. The ASSOCHAM Task Force on Covid 19 had sent similar recommendations to the government, which have largely been accepted.
As for the tourism sector, Mr Sood said providing free visas to the first five lakh tourists should attract visitors from overseas. ” As impressed by ASSOCHAM, e-visas to those with vaccinations and RT-PCR tests may also be considered for immediate relief to the tourism sector”.
Mr Sood said, ”we are in the middle of summer tourist season for states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and North East. With the Covid case load dropping significantly and the national positivity rate below 5 per cent, a cautious opening of e-visas along with health norms could provide an immediate boost to the entire tourism value chain”. Credit for registered tourist guides should provide them to re-start their work. ” However, some direct transfer to the guides can be considered for these marginalised guides”.
Additional credit guarantee of Rs 50,000 crore for the health sector in cities other than eight metros shows the government’s intention to scale up private investment in the smaller cities and semi-urban areas. The capping of interest rate at 7.95 per cent for the health credit and 8.25 per cent for the non-health sectors (with additional Rs 60,000 crore) would ease the burden of excessive lending rates.
With nutrition emerging as a key differentiator for building immunity against diseases and virus attacks, the government has rightly motivated the ICAR to develop fortified varieties of foodgrains for removing malnutrition.