Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photo: Michael Kappeler/dpa via Bernama

NEW DELHI: Indian businesses have welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stimulus package of 20 trillion rupees ($266 billion) for the coronavirus-battered economy.

India, which is enforcing the world’s largest lockdown to combat Covid-19 by keeping most of its 1.3 billion people at home, is expected to start easing some restrictions on businesses and people’s movement soon.

Modi said in a televised speech on Tuesday evening that the government would announce new rules on how to move the economy forward as India tries to contain the pandemic, which has infected more than 74,000 people.

India would focus on self-sufficiency in the post-pandemic world and the financial package, equal to about 10 per cent of the country gross domestic product (GDP), would help the economy in that direction, the prime minister said.

“This package will give a new impetus to the development journey of the country in 2020 and a new direction to the self-reliant India campaign. In order to prove the resolve of a self-reliant India, land, labour, liquidity and laws all have been emphasised in this package,” Modi said.

Further details of the plan are expected to be announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

“The prime minister’s high emphasis on self-reliance and strengthening India’s domestic manufacturing is indeed welcome,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, director-general of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

“It is time for India to dream big. What this package does is, it strengthens the dream of a strong India,” Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) president Sangita Reddy said.

The coronavirus crisis has hit the Indian economy hard as millions of jobs are at stake in sectors such as manufacturing, hospitality, retail, construction and transportation.

With the informal economy accounting for 90 per cent of employment, the lockdown’s impact is yet to emerge fully. – Bernama