Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman (File photo: PTI)NEW DELHI: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said India will soon announce fresh relief measures and economic stimulus to help the poor and industry fight the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Participating in the 101st meeting of the Development Committee Plenary of the World Bank through video conference, Sitharaman also assured the global community that India would continue to supply critical medicines to needy countries for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Coronavirus outbreak: Live updates Sharing details of welfare measures announced by the government last month, the finance minister said support measures worth $23 billion (Rs 1.70 lakh crore) were provided, comprising free health insurance to health workers; cash transfers, free food and gas distribution; and social security measures for affected workers. To help companies, especially SME firms, cope with sudden loss of economic opportunity, the government has provided relief in statutory and regulatory compliance matters related to income tax, GST, customs, financial services and corporate affairs, she said. The central bank has also been accommodative, she said, adding regulators are taking steps to reduce market volatility. In her intervention at the session, Sitharaman stated that given the size of population, India could have become a major COVID hotspot. More on Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic: Complete Coverage21-day lockdown: What will stay open and what won'tHow to quarantine yourself at homeTrust the newspaper for your daily verified news Taking no chances, the government launched massive efforts to assist the health system respond effectively to the outbreak, she said. Important measures included social distancing, travel restrictions, work from and stay at home in public and private sectors, and direct health interventions centred on scaled up testing, screening and treatment have helped contain impact of the pandemic, she added. As responsible citizens of the global community, she said, "we are supplying critical medicines to the needy countries and will continue to do so if the situation demands." India started shipment of critical drug hydroxychloroquine for treatment of coronavirus to various countries, including the US after a bit of diplomatic tussle between the two nations.
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