New Delhi, April 17 (IANS) Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said that the Indian government’s massive efforts to assist the health system respond effectively to Covid-19 outbreak has helped contain impact of the pandemic which given the size of country’ss population could have become a major hotspot.

Participating in a virtual session of World Bank’s Development Committee, she said that Government is working extensively with stakeholders for providing additional relief in the form of humanitarian aid and to provide economic stimulus in coming days to mitigate the impact of the deadly virus. Already a lot of steps including measures worth $23 billion comprising free health insurance to health workers; cash transfers, free food and gas distribution; and social security measures for affected workers have been taken, Sitharaman added.

The 101st Meeting of the Development Committee Plenary had on the agenda items including bringing update on World Bank Group Response to the Covid-19 Emergency, and the Covid-19 Debt Initiative: International Call for Action in Support of IDA Countries.

In his address to the session, World Bank President David Malpass earlier said that the agreement reached at G-20 meeting on a debt relief initiative to help the poorest countries deal with the health and economic impact of the new coronavirus pandemic was a huge achievement.

Malpass also urged the commercial creditors to all come forward to support debt relief of poor countries. He also said that Covid-19 pandemic has unleashed a global recession that would be deeper than the one seen during the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, and that would hit the poorest and most vulnerable countries the hardest.

In her intervention at this session, Sitharaman also mentioned that as responsible citizens of the global community, India is supplying critical medicines to the needy countries and will continue to do so, if the situation demands. She commended the speedy response and efficiency of the World Bank Group in rolling out the Fast Track Covid-19 Response Facility.

–IANS

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