Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman expands scheme for Covid relief to health and tourism | India News

NEW DELHI: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday announced a fresh set of measures to provide relief to a string of Covid-hit sectors, such as tourism and small businesses, apart from steps to boost health infrastructure, both in the private and public sector.
Her announcements were a mix of expansion of existing steps, such as increasing the size of the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) from Rs 3 lakh crore to Rs 4.5 lakh crore as the limit was being reached, and fresh measures. So far, over Rs 2.7 lakh crore loans have been sanctioned to 1.1 crore borrowers, based on the government guarantee, with Rs 2.1 lakh crore disbursed, financial services secretary Debasish Panda told reporters. Another Rs 1.1 lakh crore of loans, based on a similar mechanism, has been lined up. Of this, Rs 50,000 crore will be provided to healthcare, while Covid-hit sectors such as tourism will get Rs 60,000 crore loans at a maximum 8.25%, with the list of sectors to be expanded over time, Sitharaman said.

Welcoming the announcements, PM Modi indicated the fund marked for the health sector would be spent to boost healthcare facilities for children in under-served areas. “The measures will help to stimulate economic activities, boost production and exports and generate employment,” he tweeted.
Tourism and hospitality sectors have for long been demanding support from the government, arguing that they have been hit hard as Covid-19 has forced people to cut down travel. The Centre offered loans up to Rs 10 lakh to travel agents and Rs 1 lakh for registered tourist guides based on government guarantees.

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