Govt has chosen staggered manner: Expenditure Secy on relief measures, income support

The centre has chosen to provide income support and other relief measures in a staggered manner rather than giving it in one go, as it is not clear for how long the impact of the pandemic will last, TV Somanathan, Expenditure Secretary, said Wednesday. Responding to various suggestions during a panel discussion, he said it would be a mistake to overhaul the entire welfare system especially during the time of the pandemic.

“Do you make your decisions in one big announcement or do you make announcements in instalments as the situation evolves? We have chosen the latter,” he said at a webinar organised by National Council of Applied Economic Research on learnings about India’s safety net during the pandemic and economic shutdown.

In a video message at the event, Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee argued there is a need to rethink India’s entire welfare system and to address issues faced by migrant workers. He stressed that the income support provided by the government to poor needs to be enhanced significantly. “The amounts are wrong, the amount of relief should be bigger, as it’s going to be a long and painful recovery,” he said.

Former Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan said the Centre should not confuse between relief, repair and stimulus which are required for the economy at this juncture, which necessitates that fiscal response should be larger.