COVID-19: Govt to soon announce stimulus package

COVID-19: Govt to soon announce stimulus package

The government will soon announce a comprehensive package to help the economy wither the crisis arising out of the coronavirus outbreak, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman (in picture) said on Tuesday.

The package may include direct benefit transfer to poor and vulnerable along with other tax relief measures for industries hit by the lockdown.

But, ahead of that, the minister unveiled a host of sector-specific steps and eased tax compliance rules for people and businesses to help them through difficult times.

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She extended the last date for filing an income tax return (ITR) for the financial year 2018-19, GST returns and linking of PAN card with Aadhaar till June 30 to help people minimize their hardships amid a country-wide lockdown to lessen the impact of COVID-19.

“Since we are in March, we need to address certain statutory and regulatory issues,” the finance minister said as she also extended the deadline for the direct tax amnesty Vivid seVishwas scheme was extended by three months to June 30. The 10% additional charge on the principal amount involved in tax dispute under the scheme was also waived.

To save smaller businesses from going insolvent, the government raised the threshold for insolvency proceedings to Rs 1 crore from Rs 1 lakh.

For companies with turnover of less than Rs 5 crore, no interest, penalty and late fee will be charged for filing late GST returns. For those with a turnover of more than Rs 5 crore, only a reduced rate of interest will be charged but no late fee and penalty.

The minister said the government was also monitoring the volatility in the financial markets and would soon release guidelines to check the same.

“We (Ministry of Finance, Sebi and RBI) are in contact three times a day -- morning, afternoon and evening regarding the markets,” Sitharaman said.

Giving relief to citizens amid the coronavirus outbreak, she also announced removal charges on withdrawal of funds from other bank ATMs and also exempted account holders from maintaining a minimum balance.

Announcing the initiatives, Nirmala said these concessions will continue for three months till June 30.

All banks, including private sector ones, will waive off minimum balance and ATM fees for the next three months.

“At the moment, these relaxations are for three months. As we go along, we will consider the situation and take decisions accordingly,” she said.

She also announced reduced bank charges for digital trade transactions for all trade finance consumers to promote digital payment.

(With inputs from PTI)

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