Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday announced the details of the Rs 20 lakh crore package as part of measures to combat the economic damage caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The minister said the announcements were based on the existing foundation of reforms.

“Within hours of lockdown, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package was announced,” Sitharaman said at the press conference. “We ensured refunds of Rs 18,000 crore was given to all taxpayers...Ration also distributed to non-card-holders. Ujjwala gas connections were given, and cash transfers were made to Jan Dhan accounts.”

She highlighted that 14 lakh taxpayers benefited from clearing of the income tax refund dues. However, Opposition leaders and several social media users wondered how the money that the government anyway owed to the citizens was labelled as relief measure to combat the pandemic.

“What a ‘package’,” Communist Party of India (Marxist) Sitaram Yechury said in a tweet. “People’s own money, being packaged back to them as refunds and a boost! People’s own savings and income tax refunds being given back to them – How can this be a ‘stimulus’?”

Several other people on social media also criticised the government’s move

The government also announced that as part of other direct tax measures, all pending refunds to charitable trusts and non-corporate businesses and professions including proprietorship, partnership, limited liability partnership and co-operatives shall be issued immediately. Similarly, within next 45 days, all pending payments will be cleared for micro, small and medium enterprises, the finance minister said.

Here are some of the reactions: