Coronavirus crisis: Ministries told to prepare business continuity plans

Each ministry has to identify 10 key moves and 10 priority focus areas for action. The cabinet approved a 30% cut in pay for all members of parliament and ministers, including the PM, for a year. PM Modi has tasked depts with drawing up urgent r...

ANI
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on all ministries to prepare business continuity plans to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 and put the economy back into recovery mode once the lockdown ends. Each ministry has to identify 10 key decisions and 10 priority focus areas for action.

The cabinet approved a 30% cut in pay for all members of parliament and ministers, including the PM, for a year. The current 21-day lockdown is scheduled to end on April 14.

The decisions were taken at two meetings chaired by the prime minister on Monday — one with the full council of ministers and another of the cabinet, which approved an ordinance effecting the salary cut from April 1. He tasked departments with drawing up urgent revival strategies at the council of ministers meeting.


The PM took the initiative at the meeting to appeal that all ministers and MPs take a salary cut, saying he would take one himself.“He said the fight against Covid-19 will be a long one and hence a year’s salary cut would be fitting,” said a senior government official aware of the deliberations.

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Noncommittal on Lockdown
“The entire council of ministers agreed unanimously and the cabinet later approved it.” An ordinance was deemed necessary as the next session of parliament may not be scheduled anytime soon due to the disease outbreak.
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The decision was proposed by the PM after the president, vice president and governors had sent letters saying they will take a voluntary salary cut.

While pensions and other allowances of lawmakers won’t be cut, the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) will be suspended for two years, said information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar. The Rs 7,900 crore thus saved will be transferred to the Consolidated Fund of India, he told reporters. Each MP gets Rs 5 crore per year to spend on development work in the constituency under the programme. “Our social responsibility should start from self,” Javadekar said.

Some opposition MPs questioned the move, with Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala saying it would be a “huge disservice to the constituents and will undermine the role and functions of MPs.

Javadekar was noncommittal about the lockdown being lifted on April 14.
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“We are monitoring the world situation every minute,” he said. “Empowered groups of officers are working. Decisions are ultimately taken in the nation and public’s interest. We have to finally ensure that Covid goes… Therefore, that decision will be declared whenever the right time is there.”

It would be up to the states to decide whether similar salary cuts should be imposed at their level. All Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states are however expected to follow suit soon, government sources told ET.
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Javadekar didn’t say whether government staff will also be asked to take pay cuts.

“Government employees have donated their one-day salary for the fight against Covid,” the minister said in response to a question.

The prime minister exhorted all ministers to identify and implement pending reforms that come under their remit, said a press release by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

“Talking about the impact of Covid-19 on the economy, PM said that the government must work on war footing to mitigate the impact, adding that the ministries should prepare a business continuity plan,” the PMO said. “He noted that a graded plan to slowly open departments where hotspots aren’t existing should be made, adding that the crisis offers an opportunity to become self-dependent in the medical sector.”

Modi also highlighted the impact of the outbreak on India’s exports and asked ministers to submit actionable suggestions on boosting manufacturing and exports, the PMO said. He also told them to work toward opening up new markets and sectors for Indian exports.

He said the country needed to decrease its dependence on other nations and asked all departments to maintain an objective index on how their work will promote Make in India, the PMO statement said.

Modi also asked ministers to ensure that there would be no crowding at public distribution system (PDS) centres, maintain effective monitoring, take action on complaints and prevent black marketing and any rise in the price of essentials. He also said the welfare of farmers was of great importance and all possible help should be given to farmers during the harvest season.

“In this regard, he suggested 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,” the PMO said.

Modi also said that all planning should incorporate the possibility of the virus spreading further.

“There should be continuous monitoring to maintain timelines of production of essential medicines and protection equipment,” the PMO said. “Micro-level planning is essential to maintain supply lines and availability of essentials.”
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