Govt working to save lives, livelihood: FM tells India Inc amid COVID resurgence

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New Delhi, Apr 19 (PTI) Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said she has taken inputs from various industry chambers on concerns of India Inc as regards the management of the COVID-19 pandemic and stressed that the Centre will continue to work with state governments to save lives and livelihood.

She sought feedback from businesses to deal with the impact of the second COVID-19 wave on the country's economy.

It is to be noted that the economy contracted by a whopping 23.9 per cent in the first quarter (April-June) of the previous financial year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

'Spoke on telephone with each of the following business/Chamber leaders. Took their inputs on industry/Association related matters. Informed them that GoI at various levels from @PMOIndia is responding to #Covid management. Working together with states for lives and livelihoods,' she said in a tweet.

The finance minister had interactions with heads of industry chambers including CII President Uday Kotak, Ficci President Uday Shankar and Assocham President Vineet Agarwal.

She also spoke to many business leaders like Tata Steel Managing Director T V Narendran, L&T Chairman A M Naik, TCS Managing Director Rajesh Gopinathan, Maruti Suzuki Chairman R C Bhargava, TVS Group Chairman Venu Srinivasan and Hero Moto Corp Managing Director Pawan Munjal to take their feedback on situation arising out of surging COVID-19 cases and local containments.

Talking about telephonic conversation with the finance minister on April 18, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) President Sanjay Aggarwal said that she assured the government is taking all necessary steps to ensure adequate availability of hospital beds, medicines, oxygen, etc, across the nation. The finance minister also mentioned that urgent efforts are being made to increase Covid-19 vaccine production in the country and to arrange for imports also to vaccinate nation's population in the shortest time possible, Aggarwal said. 'The Union government emphasised that it is not going to impose any national lockdown which may harm the economy and that the states may impose lockdowns locally as needed,' he said quoting the finance minister. Last week, the finance minister made it clear that the government would not go for lockdowns in a big way and only resort to local containment to break the COVID-19 chain.

'Even with the second wave, we are very clear that we are not going in for lockdowns in a big way. We don't want to totally arrest the economy. The local level isolation of patients, or households which have people in quarantines are the methods through which the crisis will be handled, the second wave will be handled. There shall not be lockdown,' Sitharaman had said.

India's total tally of COVID-19 cases has crossed 1.50 crore with a record single-day rise of 2,73,810 new coronavirus infections, while the active cases surpassed the 19-lakh mark, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Monday. Meanwhile, Delhi has announced a six-day lockdown from 10 pm on Monday night till 5 am next Monday in view of an exponential rise in corona virus cases and the city's health system being stretched to its limits.

In the last few days, the daily cases of COVID-19 have been around 25,500 and the health system in Delhi is under tremendous pressure. PTI DP CS DRR MKJ