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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said foreign investors continue to show confidence in India. Replying to discussions on the Union Budget 2020-21 in Parliament, she said banks are now better equipped to fund growth investment. Asserting that government will invest over Rupees one lakh crore in infrastructure development by 2024-25. She said the county’s economy is moving forward. The Finance Minister said that there is steady growth in GST revenue collections. She said the nominal GDP of the country has increased from two trillion dollars in 2014-15 to $ 2.9 trillion by 2019-20. She said the government has taken several steps for the betterment of the youth. The Minister also said there is a positive confidence in the Indian economy and the government has taken several measures to strengthen it.
Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that the country is well prepared to deal with the Novel Coronavirus threat. Speaking on the issue in the Lok Sabha, he said, all necessary precautions are being taken and the government is keeping a close watch on the situation. The Minister said, the government has constituted a panel to monitor the Coronavirus situation. The Minister informed the house that his Ministry is monitoring and reviewing the situation daily and till now 1,118 flights have been screened. Dr Harsh Vardhan thanked Air India and the medical staff who were involved in the rescue mission of Indian students from Wuhan. The Minister told the Rajya Sabha that the government has made elaborate arrangements for testing of clinical samples for Coronavirus all over India. In reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha on Ayushman Bharat–Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, Dr. Vardhan said the scheme provides the secondary and tertiary care hospitalization cover up to five lakh rupees per family per annum to around 10.74 crore poor and vulnerable families.
Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy told the Lok Sabha that a total of 44 thousand 951 pilgrims travelled via Kartarpur Corridor to pay obeisance at Sri Kartarpur Sahib between 9th of November 2019 and 31st of January 2020. His Ministerial colleague, Nityananda Rai informed the Lok Sabha that 35 lakh 40 thousand 267 Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cards have been issued till 31st of January 2020. The Minister said OCI card may be cancelled as provided in the Citizenship Act of 1955. The Minister said the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019 aims at facilitating the grant of the citizenship to migrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, who have entered India on or before 31st of December 2014 and who have been exempted from the penal provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and the Rules/Orders made there-under.
Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers D.V. Sadananda Gowda said in order to prevent plastic pollution in the country, the Ministry of Climate Change has notified that plastic carry bags made of virgin or recycled plastic less than fifty microns in thickness have been prohibited. However, considering the high environmental cost associated with the use of single-use plastic, particularly the adverse effect on soil, water bodies and on marine environment, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced India’s pledge to phase out single-use plastic by 2022.
Minister of State for Tourism Prahlad Singh Patel said a new draft National Tourism Policy has been formulated which is now being reviewed. He said the salient features of the new policy include focus on employment generation and community participation in tourism. He said, among other things, the policy enshrines the vision of developing and positioning India as a Must Experience and transformational destination for global travellers whilst encouraging Indians to explore their own country.
Both the Houses are in mid-session recess. Parliament is now scheduled to meet in the first week of March to take up the second part of the Budget Session.
Script: V. Mohan Rao, Journalist