NEW DELHI: In the first virtual Cabinet meeting held through video-conferencing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Council of Ministers on Monday brainstormed the strategy to ensure business continuity after the lockdown is lifted. Expecting an economic upheaval in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, PM Modi asked each ministry to come up with a list of measures they will take to lessen dependence on other countries.
Given the shortage of critical equipment including ventilators to battle the coronavirus outbreak, the Prime Minister told his ministers that self-dependence in the medical sector is an immediate priority.
“The government must work on war-footing to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the economy. The ministries should prepare a business continuity plan,” Modi told the ministers.
The PM also asked the ministers to prepare a graded plan to open departments slowly where hotspots don’t exist. This means that restrictions could stay in places which are reporting new cases, while rest of the regions may see a gradual return to the normalcy.
“The crisis offers an opportunity to become self-dependent in the medical sector. Ministers should submit actionable suggestions on boosting manufacturing and exports,” Modi told the ministers while stressing that new sectors and countries must find a place in India’s export basket.
The PM, while stating that lockdown measures and social distancing must go hand-in-hand, also called for strategising emergent conditions once the shutdown ends.
“Ministers should prepare a list of 10 major decisions and 10 priority areas once lockdown ends. At the same time, pending reforms be identified in each ministry,” he said.
With the agriculture likely to face a major challenge due to the lockdown, Modi stressed farmer welfare is a priority.
“The government will provide all possible help to farmers in the harvesting season. All must work for harnessing technology and encouraging exploration of innovative solutions like using truck aggregators to connect farmers with mandis on the lines of app-based cab services. Strategy must be devised to ensure procurement of tribal products so that the source of income source of the indigenous tribal remains intact,” said Modi.
The ministers also provided feedback to the PM on the steps being taken to meet the challenges in tackling the impact of the pandemic.