At the crossroads of the pandemic, it has become critical for the government to revisit the model for economic development in the country. As we plan to attract fresh investments within the country, it is important for policy-makers at the Centre to hold discussions with the states to attract investments somewhat uniformly across the country.
For a long-term sustainable business model, it is important to implement structural reforms to ensure that all these sectors are able to benefit from increased earnings, which will only help deal with unforeseen circumstances.
Migrant workers provide the much-needed support to keep the wheels of economy moving. Nearly 80 million are working across our country currently. The sheer number of migrant workers has been the outcome of disproportionate economic development across different states in the post-Independence period. The government’s recently announced fiscal support measures for migrant workers include setting up of shelters where they are provided food and water. This has been done using a fund of Rs 11,000 crore, and through the provision of free supply of food and grains to 80 million workers over the next two months. Going ahead, through national portability of ration cards, the government would ensure that all migrants have access to subsidised food grains throughout the country.
Finding employment opportunities amid the crisis would be a challenge for the migrant workers both in cities and back home in rural areas. Hence, the allocation of an additional sum of Rs 40,000 cr towards MGNREGA, including an additional Rs 300-crore man days of employment, would be the key to boost employment during this period.
At the crossroads of the pandemic, it has become critical for the government to revisit the model for economic development in the country. As we plan to attract fresh investments within the country, for which the government has introduced a series of policy reforms ranging from commercial mining of coal, making India a global hub for aircraft maintenance and repair, and self-reliant in terms of indigenous manufacturing of defence products, it is important for policy-makers at the Centre to hold discussions with the states to attract investments somewhat uniformly across the country.
The initiative would enable us to reduce the migration of workers from one state to another and develop an alternative model for employment. It will also dovetail with the government’s plan for MSMEs, which account for over 45 per cent of the country’s industrial output and 40 per cent of its exports. The economic stimulus measures for MSMEs include an allocation of collateral-free automatic loans worth Rs 3 lakh crore, with a one-year moratorium on principal repayment, Rs 20,000 crore subordinate debt for stressed MSMEs and additionally Rs 50,000 crore equity support.
Historically, we have encountered many such instances in the UPA regime wherein one-time standalone support may have generated liquidity in such situations, but failed to provide long-term sustainable growth for businesses. Our government has tried to achieve the right combination of fiscal and policy measures.
The agricultural sector along with dairy and aquaculture accounts for approximately 43 per cent of the total workforce in our country. To insulate small and marginal farmers from this crisis, a total of 63 lakh loans worth Rs 86,000 crore have been approved. Also, Rs 74,300 crore worth purchases have been made at minimum support price while Rs 18,700 crore have been directly transferred to the accounts of the farmers under the PM Kisan Samman Yojana.
But for a long-term sustainable business model, it is important to implement structural reforms to ensure that all these sectors are able to benefit from increased earnings, which will only help deal with unforeseen circumstances. Amendments to the 1955 Essential Commodities Act of are aimed at this. They will enable deregulation of certain food crops to enable farmers to enjoy better prices for their produce. Also, a new central law will be introduced to provide barrier-free interstate trade of agricultural produce that will also allow farmers to trade online.