More govt steps on way to help firms reduce job losses

Coronavirus lockdown: More government steps on way to help firms minimise job losses, salary cuts

Representative image. (iStock photo)

The Centre may come up with more measures to help firms minimize job losses and salary cuts as prolonged lockdowns are making it difficult for businesses to keep workers on the roll and continue to pay them out of their own resources month after month.

A direct cash transfer to poor and migrant labourers is also on the table but the Centre is collecting more data on that front. The government still does not have a state-wise and district-wise data of migrant workforce.  

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A top finance ministry official said the Centre is seized of the matter and it has firmed up plans to engage with states through labour ministry on how to help companies pay salaries to their staffers in order to retain them.

It is possible that the government might also make working capital available on easier terms for firms struggling to look up amid the virus.

The finance ministry has been collecting more data on job losses.

“In the five consecutive announcements of over Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package, the focus was that money reaches in those hands that trigger an immediate economic growth. As we move forward, we will keep our options open. This is not the end of the incentives.

For now, as the economy unlocks, we are assessing the damage sector-wise,” the official said, indicating as the data on migrants gets updated, there could even be cash transfers in their accounts.

The fourth phase of lockdown is coming to an end on May 31.

But, with the virus cases rising by each passing day, it does not appear that the lockdown will lift anytime soon.

The official said that the government would do everything within its reach to enhance consumption, a mainstay of the Indian economy, which has taken a severe hit. To that end, the Goods and Services Tax rates might also get a rejig once the GST Council meets in the middle of next month.

Though the GST rates are not in Centre’s hands alone, the states, which have been asking for certain rate increases on some non-essential items for revenue mop-up, would be exhorted to let the rates of non-essentials remain at where they are so that people are not discouraged from buying things.   

 To a question on financial help to the travel and hospitality sectors, the official said, the assessment and meetings is still going on.

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