New Delhi: Congress leader P Chidambaram today derided Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of a Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package as a “headline and a blank page”, and said he was looking forward to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman filling the bank page.
On Tuesday, PM Modi announced financial incentives, adding to previously announced packages, for a combined stimulus of Rs 20 lakh crore, roughly 10 per cent of India’s GDP, to tide over the coronavirus crisis and its impact on the economy.
The package includes Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s assistance and a Rs 1.74 lakh crore fund announced earlier, days after the country went into lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Mr Chidambaram, who was Finance Minister in Congress governments, explained why he didn’t react yesterday.
“Yesterday, PM gave us a headline and a blank page. Naturally, my reaction was a blank! Today, we look forward to the FM filling the blank page. We will carefully count every ADDITIONAL rupee that the government will actually infuse into the economy,” he said in tweets.
We will also carefully examine who gets what? And the first thing we will look for is what the poor, hungry and devastated migrant workers can expect after they have walked hundreds of kilometres to their home states,” said the Congress leader.
“We will also examine what the bottom half of the population (13 crore families) will get in terms of REAL MONEY.”
Nirmala Sitharaman is expected to address a series of press conferences from today to give details of the package.
In tweets, the Finance Minister said: “This shall not be just a financial package, but a reform stimulus, a mindset overhaul, and a thrust in governance.”
The “Aatma Nirbhar Bharat” mission, she said, would include “everyone -a hawker/street vendor, a trader, a MSME, an honest tax paying middle class, a manufacturer etc.”
Industry bodies like CII and FICCI have praised the move, saying it will go a long way in making India self-reliant – PM repeatedly emphasized on “Aatma-Nirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India)” in his address to the nation — and bringing the economy back on the track in view of coronavirus-induced lockdown.