Business

No economic task force for COVID-19 yet

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Will be set up by PMO or Cabinet Secretariat, says Finance Ministry.

Four days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that a task force would be set up to deal with the economic impact of coronavirus (COVID-19), it has yet to be constituted.

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Although Mr. Modi said the task force was to be headed by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the Ministry says it is not responsible for constituting the body. In fact, some officials said Ms. Sitharaman was unaware of the task force until the Prime Minister mentioned it in his address to the nation on Thursday.

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The task force will be constituted by order of the Prime Minister’s Office or the Cabinet Secretariat, not the Finance Ministry, a senior spokesperson told The Hindu. There is no indication on timelines as yet.

“Keeping in mind the economic challenges posed by the corona pandemic, it has been decided to create a COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force headed by the Finance Minister,” Mr. Modi had said during his address to the nation on Thursday. “This Task Force will be in constant contact with all the stakeholders, take their feedback and after analysing the situation, take necessary decisions in the near future. The Task Force will also ensure that all the decisions, taken to tide over the economic crisis, are effectively implemented.”

On Friday, Ms. Sitharaman told journalists that although the task force had not yet been set up, the Finance Ministry was already holding meetings with the sectors most severely affected, and these inputs would be given to the task force as well. “It is an evolving situation,” she said.

On Monday, despite repeated demands in the Lok Sabha for an economic package to be announced before the House adjourned its session, there was no announcement. Some Finance Ministry officials said a proposal to set up a special fund, to be drawn from the Consolidated Fund of India, is yet to receive PMO approval.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 5:31:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/no-economic-task-force-for-covid-19-yet/article31145254.ece

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