On a day when Indian bourses crashed due to COVID-19 fears upon opening and trading had to be halted for almost forty-five minutes, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government is in touch with the representatives of the various sectors of the economy.
Minister Sitharaman also assured that the Indian apex bank is constantly monitoring the likely impact of COVID-19, simply known as coronavirus, on the Indian economy and appropriate steps will be taken as and when needed.
“Global markets are facing severe volatility and we are watchful. We are monitoring the situation with the institutions like Reserve Bank of India. We are seized of the matter".
When asked whether the government plans to come out with a stimulus for the industries affected by the spread of COVID-19 in India and also whether the Indian Central Bank, RBI, will take measures like the US Federal Reserve or European Central Bank, Sitharaman said, “As regards stimulus or response, interactions with various government departments is happening. RBI has also clearly recognised the global development and will take measures when needed".
On 3 March, the US Federal Reserve reduced interest rates by half a percentage point in an emergency move almost two weeks before a scheduled policy meeting to insulate the country's economy from the impact of COVID-19. Without opting for a rate cut, the European Central Bank has announced stimulus measures.
The novel coronavirus has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), leaving over 127,000 people infected so far globally, with 75 cases confirmed in India.