File image of NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar. Image courtesy:

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth could slip to zero or even negative in the first quarter due to the impact of the countrywide COVID-19 lockdown.

This was observed by NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar during an interview with The Print.

Kumar was quoted as saying that while there is a chance that this may not happen since essential services are functioning, the virtual shutdown of all other sectors of the economy could result in a zero or negative GDP growth.

Beyond June it would not be possible to provide any forecasts, Kumar said.

Kumar, however, ruled out the possibility of a recession as after June, he does expect some sectors like hospitality, transport, entertainment and FMCG to start functioning.

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Kumar also said under the present scenario saving lives is top priority for the government.

Earlier this week, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced a Rs 1.7 lakh crore relief package for the poor and migrant workers who have been hit the hardest by the lockdown.

RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das on Friday last announced a deferment of all loan repayments, effectively allowing borrowers to not pay any equated monthly instalments or EMIs for any loans until 30 June.

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