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India better prepared to tackle COVID third wave, NITI Aayog VC

India is better prepared to tackle the possible third wave of coronavirus, said NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar. Emphasising on the development in Covid-19 management, the think tank’s head said that states have learned their lesson in dealing with the pandemic.

“We are now hopefully getting past our [Covid-19] pandemic… and the economic activities will be strengthened as we get into the second half of this (fiscal) year given what I have seen for example various indicators, including the mobility indicators,” Kumar told PTI during an interview.

Kumar exuded confidence that the government is much better prepared if a third wave of Covid-19 hits India.

“I think the government is far better prepared now to face the third Covid wave, if at all it does come up… I feel the impact of the third wave on the economy will be much weaker than it was during the second wave and the beginning of the first wave,” he said.

The NITI Aayog vice chairperson said that states have learned their own lessons in handling the pandemic over the course of past two waves.

Recently, the government approved an additional grant of ₹23,123 crore, mainly aimed at ramping up health infrastructure in view of Covid-19 situation in the country.

Responding to a question about the option of the government issuing Covid bonds to raise money, Kumar said, “Well give it whatever names you like, the point is that if the government needs to borrow more money for expanding capital expenditure, it could go ahead because that will attract more private investments.”

He noted that the government should issue bonds, whether these are Covid bonds or infrastructure bonds, the name is not crucial. Kumar further pointed out that bond yields have not risen despite the higher borrowing requirements of both the central and state governments.

“This means that there is an appetite for government borrowings and the deficit would be financed without much difficulty,” he said. Live Mint