Amid intense volatility in the financial markets due to concerns over the impact of COVID-19, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said that the government, along with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), was conscious of the developments and was monitoring the situation almost on a daily basis.
The statement came at a time when the stock markets plunged over 10% in the opening session on Friday as the virus-led recession fears triggered panic selling.
“The Government of India is in touch with various departments concerned, and also State governments, and has been continuously monitoring the coronavirus [situation] and making sure that effective, timely steps are taken to take care of Indian interests and also ensuring that Indians who travelled abroad are tested, monitored,” the Finance Minister said.
Replying to a query at a press conference, Ms. Sitharaman said, “As it is, global markets have all had severe volatility. And we are also consciously monitoring all of them. It’s no consolation to say that stock markets elsewhere have also suffered. I’m conscious of that. But globally, there is [such] serious repercussion felt; we are conscious of the developments and together with RBI we are monitoring.”
The Minister added that she had already held meetings with all the industries concerned to address challenges that are arising due to the outbreak of COVID-19, and the government departments are now spending a lot of time to see how best they could get relief from the challenges.
“So, we are seized of the matter and we are on an almost daily basis monitoring this,” she added.
Asked about the possibility of a fiscal stimulus, the Minister said, “As regards the kind of stimulus or response that we have to give for the coronavirus related matter, you’re fully aware that the interaction and engagement with these sectors through the department concerned is happening almost on a daily basis. So, we are trying and will also see where each of the departments will have to make some intervention. So yes, we are moving on that front.”
Replying to a query on a Budget proposal that lowered the threshold for being deemed a resident of the country to 120 days in the backdrop of travel restrictions due to COVID-19, the Minister said she had received a lot of inputs on this from the various cities that she had visited with officials of the Ministry of Finance. “We will consider the inputs that we’ve received. We’ll have a review of it and take a call after that.”