New Delhi, Jun 28 (EFE).- India on Monday announced a program to offer government guarantees for loans worth $14.8 billion for the sectors hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, with a special focus on health and tourism, apart from waiving the visa fee for the first 500,000 tourists to visit the country.
Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a press conference that the state would stand guarantee for $7.7 billion in loans for the healthcare sector, with the interest rate capped at 7.95 percent.
She said that these loans would be aimed at “scaling up medical infrastructure targeting underserved areas.”
Similarly, the government would provide guarantees for loans worth over $8 billion in other sectors affected by the pandemic and lockdowns, aiming to revive the country’s economy.
The loan scheme is aimed at the private healthcare sector, although the government also announced investments worth $3.1 billion in the public health system.
The investment would have a special focus on child and pediatric care and will also include “human resources augmentation to rope in medical students, nurses and strengthening medical infrastructure,” Sitharaman said.
The government would increase the credit guarantee corpus available to Indian companies to $60.56 billion, up from the $40 billion announced last year.
Part of the aid announced on Monday would be used to sustain the paralyzed tourist sector, with loans guaranteed by the government for officially recognized tourist guides and operators.
The government will also extend its food aid program for the poorest citizens.
In total, the finance minister announced credit, aid and other help worth $84.77 billion, although she acknowledged that some of the measures had already been announced earlier.
India is recovering from a virulent second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, which led to daily caseloads of over 400,000 and more than 4,000 deaths per day during its peak in May.
The South Asian country registered a sharp GDP contraction of 7.3 percent in the fiscal year ending in March 2021, especially due to the economy shrinking by as much as 24.4 percent between April and June 2020, amid a total nationwide lockdown.
Earlier this month, the Reserve Bank of India forecast a 9.5 percent GDP growth for the financial year 2021-2022. EFE