India is considering extending its flagship jobs program in villages to workers in cities left unemployed by the pandemic-induced lock down, a government official said.
The program, when approved, may be rolled out in smaller cities and initially cost about 350 billion rupees ($4.8 billion), said Sanjay Kumar, a joint secretary in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
The government has been considering this idea since last year, he said. The pandemic gave a push to this discussion.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is already spending more than 1 trillion rupees on a rural jobs program this year, under which workers in the hinterland can earn a guaranteed minimum daily wage of 202 rupees for at least 100 days a year. An urban version of the plan will soften the blow on citizens most affected by the corona virus fallout, which has set Asia’s third-largest economy on course for its deepest contraction in history. The idea is to start with smaller towns because big-city projects typically need professional expertise, Kumar said.