Prime Minister Modi meets Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to discuss ways to boost economy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and other senior government officers on Thursday to discuss ways to attract more foreign investment and boost the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the meeting, during which the Prime Minister and others were seen sitting apart to maintain social distancing, plug-and-play infrastructure in existing industrial estates was discussed. States were also urged to take a proactive approach in helping investors get necessary government clearances.
“Various strategies to bring investments into India in a fast-track mode and to promote Indian domestic sectors were discussed. Detailed discussions were held on guiding states to evolve their strategies and be more proactive in attracting investments,” a statement released by the government said.
After the meeting PM Modi tweeted: “Chaired a high-level meeting to discuss ways to boost investment, both international and domestic. Issues relating to India’s reform trajectory also discussed so growth can be accelerated”.
The Prime Minister’s meeting comes amid widespread concern for the economy after a prolonged lockdown to prevent transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
During the lockdown only shops selling essential goods were open, leaving businesses – from MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) to bigger brands and companies – calling for loan support, wage subsidies and tax deferrals, according to a report by news agency Reuters.
Earlier this month another report by Reuters suggested a package worth Rs 1,300 crore would focus on small and medium businesses, with a third focused on bigger companies after assessing the extent of damage suffered.
Small businesses account for nearly a quarter of India’s $2.9 trillion economy and employ more than 50 crore workers, according to government estimates.
Last week, however, cabinet ministers told NDTV, on condition of anonymity, the package could take time. They suggested the delay was because the government is unclear how the pandemic will evolve over the next months.
They also pointed out the government was not flush with funds at present.
Also last week, after advice from at least 13 chief ministers during a video conference, the government re-started some economic activity in parts of the country least affected by the virus; this included agriculture and construction activities as well as work in plantations.
Further relaxations are expected after May 3, when the second phase of the Prime Minister’s lockdown ends, the Home Ministry said on Wednesday.
On Tuesday ratings agency Moody’s cut its forecast for India’s GDP growth, for this financial year, to 0.2 per cent; in March it predicted 2.5 per cent growth.
Moody’s outlook on the economy mirrored projections by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which said India’s GDP would grow at only 1.9 per cent.
In some good news, however, IMF said the Indian economy could grow at over seven per cent in 2021/22, if the coronavirus pandemic were contained.
Across India, over 33,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed with 1,075 deaths linked to the virus.