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RBI rolls out Rs 50,000 crore fund to bolster healthcare sector in war on Covid-19

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Shaktikanta Das, RBI governor

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday rolled out a Covid-19 healthcare package of Rs 50,000 crore for vaccine makers, medical equipment suppliers, hospitals and patients to fight the second Covid-19 wave.

The apex bank also eased conditions for the repayment of loans by individuals and small business entities for up to two years as part the measures to help them cope with the devastating economic fallout of the pandemic.

“The immediate objective is to preserve human life and restore livelihoods through all means possible,” RBI governor Shaktikanta Das said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Das said the RBI has opened an on-tap liquidity window of Rs 50,000 crore with tenors of up to three years at the repo rate – four per cent — till March 31, 2022 to boost provision of immediate liquidity for ramping up Covid-related healthcare infrastructure and services in the country.

Under the scheme, banks can provide fresh lending support to a wide range of entities including vaccine manufacturers, importers and suppliers of vaccines and priority medical devices, hospitals and dispensaries, pathology labs, manufactures and suppliers of oxygen and ventilators, importers of vaccines and Covid-related drugs, logistics firms and also patients for treatment, the RBI governor said.

Both the Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech have been seeking more funds to expand production of vaccines. Besides, other pharma firms have tie-ups for making Sputnik V and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.  All these companies are now expected to get easy access to funds.

Package for small businesses

As part of the broader RBI package, individual borrowers and small businesses with loan outstanding of up to Rs 25 crore, and who did not avail of moratorium or restructuring relief last year, can ask for restructuring of their loans for up to 2 years. The window remains open up to 30 September, and banks will have to do the restructuring within 90 days of getting the request.

Individual borrowers and small businesses that availed the facility last year but banks allowed restructuring of less than two years can now avail the facility and tell banks to increase the residual repayment window to up to two years in total.

The RBI will now have a special long-term repo operation window for small finance banks, whereby the banks can borrow funds up to Rs 10,000 crore at repo rate for deploying for fresh loans SFBs, to be deployed for fresh lending of up to Rs 10 lakh per borrower.

The RBI has also extended some measures taken last year for banks and other entities to help them during the pandemic.

Covid-19 In India