Taking stock of the relief measures deployed by regulators to soften the impact of the lockdown. Gautam Kagalwala reports
With the COVID-19 outbreak, the government has been fighting on two fronts. It has introduced a lockdown to limit the spread of the virus among the population, while introducing a raft of measures to protect businesses. The ease of doing business mantra was also retained to aid businesses during this difficult time.
In late March, the government announced a stimulus package worth US$22.4 billion and comprising free food grains, cooking gas and cash handouts for the vulnerable sections of the population. Other measures were also rolled out for citizens, such as extending loan repayment dates for farmers.
Demands for a stimulus package were also raised by industry groups such as the Confederation of Indian Industry, the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, and the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The government is in talks for a second package that would provide relief to affected sectors.
The Ministry of Home Affairs, exercising powers under the National Disaster Management Act, extended the lockdown for two weeks from 4 May. Hospitality, entertainment and some transport services were to remain closed, but measures were also eased. A colour-graded system was introduced where business activities were allowed in an area on the basis of the spread of the virus. For instance, staff could resume working from offices in a green zone, but only 33% of staff could come to offices in a red zone.
Many of the measures unveiled in response to COVID-19, and the lockdown measures, have seen the government provide flexibility with statutory and regulatory compliance requirements and deadlines, while others seek to shield areas of the economy that have become vulnerable.