While the Kerala government has already announced Rs 20,000-crore revival package to tide over the coronavirus crisis that has drained the state’s economy, Maharashtra, which is severely hit by its outbreak, is yet to do so. The Uddhav Thackeray-led coalition instead has decided to adopt a “wait and watch” approach as far as announcing economic measures go.
With debt mounting on the state’s exchequer, it wants to wait for the Centre to first roll out various relief and fiscal measures for various affected segments before announcing its own bouquet of initiatives.
On Monday, state’s Finance Minister Ajit Pawar wrote a letter to the Centre, seeking financial assistance of Rs 25,000 crore to revive the economy. Pawar argued that the lockdowns has adversely hit the state’s economy. The state has also sought immediate release of Rs 16,654 crore in grants due from the Centre.
Maharashtra, the country’s most industrialised state, accounts for about 15 per cent of the nation’s GDP. The mass closures due to the unprecedented shutdown has hit the state’s economy hard, with both the formal and the unorganised sector suffering massive losses.
With nearly 94 per cent of operational factory units in the state shut, the small businesses, in particular, have been the worst hit by the coronavirus outbreak.
The state has about 17 lakh registered micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which also cater to a labour force of over 1.5 crore. “Restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus outbreak has hurt the state’s income. We are expecting the annual income targets to fall short by 10 per cent,” an official said.
Having already set aside Rs 15,000 crore for the farm loan waiver in 2019-20, the Thackeray government has decided to wait till the Centre announces its relief measures, before announcing the state’s revival package, a senior official said.