The Finance Ministry is coming up with a contingency plan for the upcoming months in order to ease the burden of rising COVID cases in the country. The plan would mainly deal with expenditure and reassessment of regulatory frameworks as and when applicable.
According to a senior official, government spending on non-essential sectors may be capped, with priority given to vaccine and oxygen production, medical facilities and social infrastructure. “We had recently removed spending caps, but given the situation we may have to re-prioritise spending,” he added.
Other organizations have also appealed to the Centre for relief measures as the economy has come to a standstill yet again. The Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry reached out to the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and requested that appropriate action be taken to revitalize affected businesses.
The Chamber also brought attention to the Finance Act (2017) that prohibits the transfer of more than Rs 2 lakh per day. It declared that the provision hampered treatment of patients as hospitals insist on electronic down payments, and affected families usually depend on financial support from friends and relatives through electronic transfers.
Ever since the second wave of COVID-19 hit India, daily cases have hit an all-time high with more than 3 lakh new cases reported over the past week. The pandemic has revealed the vulnerability of India’s health infrastructure which requires immediate attention and reform.
Most COVID-related deaths have occurred not just because of the lethal Indian variant but also due to inadequate oxygen supplies and insufficient hospital beds.
The government is presently engaged in increasing oxygen bottling plants and generators and allocating funds to state governments for the same.
The centre is also considering easing bankruptcy rules in the coming three months, an act reminiscent of last year’s lockdown. Alleviating pressure on companies and businesses is a leading factor in the government’s decisions and such regulatory and repayment guidelines may be given some leeway, the official commented.