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Centre studying economic impact of covid second wave: Nirmala Sitharaman

The government is taking feedback on the economic impact of the devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic but has not taken a call yet on offering a package as the union budget announcement for FY22 was not long ago, union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said here.

Speaking at a news briefing after the 43rd GST Council meeting, Sitharaman said that the government had kept announcing many steps last year after assessing the impact of the full lockdown during the first wave of the pandemic.

“The union budget (for FY22) has been announced only on 1 February. We are in May. We have an entire year to go. The second wave has come. There is no complete lockdown, yet states have had lockdowns. We are getting inputs, we need to take a call,” Sitharaman said.

The minister said that the impact of the second wave too must be understood. “We need to understand where the impact is and how much it is. That process of consulting, the states consulting the industry, is going on. We have not made any final call on it” Sitharaman said in response to a question on whether the government was contemplating any further economic package.

Sitharaman’s assurance that she was assessing the economic situation comes at a time calls for a package for small businesses is getting louder. Small businesses have been battered by the disruption caused by regional movement restrictions, loss of labour force and cashflow problems. Large businesses believe that their order book will be protected if cashflow problems of small businesses are addressed.

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