Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the contrary to the repeatedly brought up concern of giving relief to the country's middle-class, which has been severely impacted by the second wave of COVID-19, the government has taken several measures to address the issue.
In an exclusive interview with Business Today, FM Sitharaman stated that the said segment, as well as the businesses, have been given relief from time to time in the form of Special Window for Affordable and Mid-Income Housing (SWAMIH) Investment Fund, Emergency Credit Guarantee Liquidity Scheme (ECGLS) for the MSME sector.
"I find this concern for the 'middle class' repeatedly brought up. Don't the middle class among farmers benefit through government procurement? Haven't middle-class homebuyers got relief through the SWAMIH (Special Window for Completion of Construction of Affordable and Mid-Income Housing Projects) programme?" the finance minister noted.
"Likewise, there's the Emergency Credit Guarantee Liquidity Scheme (ECGLS) for the MSME sector, through which 20 per cent of their outstanding credit is given as loan, without any security, for which the government stands guarantee. Now, that 20 per cent has been increased to 40 per cent. Aren't there middle-class people running them?" she added.
The second wave of COVID-19 hit India's middle class with brute force, with many reports suggesting that the latest outbreak could have long-term ramifications for middle-class Indians.
The latest suggestion came about in a FICCI survey, which indicated that household incomes, as well as business confidence, have nosedived on the back of a sweeping second wave of coronavirus infections.
Proposing several measures, the survey suggested income-tax relief for the middle class and temporary reductions in indirect taxes for businesses.
The Reserve Bank of India's (RBI's) May round of survey also showed consumer confidence hitting an all-time low.
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