2021 will not be about Covid despite second wave: Nirmala Sitharaman

FM says Rs 4,650 crore being given to two vaccine makers in India to ramp up capacity; adds 100% advance paid top them for the next few months

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Nirmala Sitharaman | Coronavirus | Indian Economy

Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, assured that 2021 will not be about Covid-19, in spite of the second wave, and the economic “revival” will continue.

Addressing members of Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce & Industry in Kolkata on Tuesday, Sitharaman said, “You will withstand this challenge also; 2019 was about liquidity, 2020 was about Covid, but 2021 shall not be about Covid, in spite of the second wave. I want to assure you that.”

Pointing to the steps taken by the government, she said, “Revival was happening, is happening and will continue to happen.” Sentiments don’t fall so rapidly, the minister added.

But for sustaining growth, confidence and mutual trust was required for industry with the government and government with industry, Sitharaman said while speaking on “Sustaining growth momentum during Covid times”. “I appeal to you, to trust and have confidence in the government, she said.

On Monday, the government announced measures to ramp up the vaccination drive, allowing it to be extended to all above 18 years from May 1. Pointing to it, Sitharaman also mentioned that Rs 4,650 crore was being given to two vaccine manufacturers in India to ramp up their capacities.

“To ensure supply, we have paid them 100 per cent in advance for the next few months,” she said.

The announcements by the government on Monday around a liberalised and accelerated phase three of vaccination were amid a growing call to extend the drive to a larger section of the population.

Sitharaman said that there could be a lot of campaign, but the government was continuously responding, in terms of managing it better without less suffering.

She added capacity had been ramped up whether it was for testing, oxygen manufacturing, or PPE kits and ventilators.

In the meantime, core industries like cement and steel were ramping up capacities, she said.

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