Detailing the measures for easing economic hardships triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on May 17 announced the last tranche of economic package.
The borrowing limit for states has been hiked to 5 percent from 3 percent for current financial year ending March 31, 2021.
Underlining initiatives taken to support state governments, the FM said that despite a sharp decline in revenues, Centre has disbursed Rs 46,038 crore to states in April.
"Additionally, Revenue Deficit Grants of Rs 12,390 crore was given on time in April and May, despite Centre's stressed resources," Sitharaman said, adding that Centre has released State Disaster Response Force funds to the tune of Rs 11,092 crore in the first week of April.
"Health Ministry has released over Rs. 4,113 crore for direct anti-COVID-19 activities," the FM added.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
At Centre's request, the RBI has increased Ways and Mans Advance limit of the state governments by 60 percent, she added.
The government has also increased the number of days states can be in continuous overdraft from 14 days to 21 days. Additionally, in a quarter, states can be in overdraft for 50 days from earlier 32 days.
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Finance Minister on May 15 outlined the fifth tranche of the contours of India’s Rs 20 lakh crore fiscal stimulus announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
So far, the steps announced by the government have focussed on MSMEs, PSU banks, agriculture, the welfare of the poor and structural reforms in eight sectors, including coal, minerals, airports.
On May 15, Sitharaman announced Rs 1 lakh crore for a farm infrastructure fund and a Rs 10,000 crore scheme for micro food enterprises. Moreover, she proposed amendments to the Essential Commodities Act to enable better pricing for farmers.
The nationwide lockdown enforced on March 25 has brought most economic activities in the country to a standstill.