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Coronavirus impact: FM Sitharaman takes stock of key sectors

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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today met Minister for Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Fisheries Giriraj Singh to assess the economic impact of COVID-19. During the meeting, Finance Secretary, Secretary DEA, Secretary (AHD) and Secretary (Fisheries) were also present. The FM is also scheduled to meet ministers of civil aviation, MSMEs and tourism today.

The special COVID-19 economic task force announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday will likely work on an economic package for the sectors most affected by the coronavirus outbreak, including informal sectors. He said the task force would ensure that all necessary steps were taken to reduce the economic difficulties arising out of the crisis. He also urged the FM-led task force to implement them effectively.

He said this was a difficult time and the need of the hour was to take stock of economic interests of everyone. "I request the business world and high-income groups to that, if possible, keep in mind the economic interests of those who serve you," said the PM.

As per experts, the task force will have to take drastic steps like relaxation in NPA (non-performing assets) norms, deferral of tax payments and the announcement of income support to the people working in the unorganised sector.

Notably, travel, tourism and hotel industries are some of the worst-affected sectors due to travel bans, social distancing and suspension of business activities. While other related sectors like fuel minerals, electricity and water and rubber, plastic, coke and petroleum products, etc are also likely to be impacted adversely.

Coronavirus outbreak has disrupted the global economy, and countries, trade blocs are taking fiscal measures to overcome the crisis. While India is yet to come up with a rescue package in wake of coronavirus crisis, major economies of the world have announced billions of dollars worth bailout packages to offset losses due to the COVID-19's outbreak.

The US alone has set aside over $1 trillion in a bid to protect the economy from COVID-19. UK, Switzerland, China, Sweden, Austria, and Japan, have also taken fiscal measures, including offering support to local businesses.

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