To ‘save lives and livelihoods’, Punjab CM seeks 80,000-cr aid from Centre

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By: Express News Service | Chandigarh | Published: June 16, 2020 11:13:50 am

punjab chief secretary, Karan Avtar Singh, punjab cabinet meet, punjab cabinet ministers, Amarinder Singh, punjab finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, indian express news The Punjab government also sought support for trade and industry, especially micro, small and medium enterprises. (File)

Citing the ‘large-scale devastation and distress’ caused in Punjab due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Monday sought a fiscal aid of over Rs 80,000 crore from the Centre to ‘save lives and secure livelihoods’.

“The Centre’s urgent intervention is needed to avert any major socio-economic upheaval in the coming future, as also to assure our next generations of safe living and security of livelihood,” Amarimder said in a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding an aid of Rs 80,845 crore.

Amarinder also emphasised the need for ‘administrative, structural and even statutory changes’ to ensure the safety and security of people in the new normal, given that the pandemic is here to stay for a long time.

Amarinder said, “The Government of Punjab, despite all-out efforts to contain the pandemic in keeping with the guidelines issued by the Government of India from time to time, feels that states alone cannot meet the new challenges, and therefore in the true spirit of cooperative federalism, needs the Union Government to aid and assist them in an unusually big way, which the country has never seen since independence in 1947.”

The Punjab chief minister in a statement said a direct fiscal stimulus of Rs 26,400 crore and the waiver of the long-term CCL (cash credit limit) debt was extremely necessary for the fiscal recovery of the state. Additionally, all central schemes should be 100 per cent funded by the Centre in 2020-21, the CM urged.

He also sought Rs 6,603 crore for improvement in the state’s public health infrastructure. Besides, Amarinder said, the state will need an estimated Rs 15,975 crore for the upgrade of farm-gate infrastructure, one-time debt waiver, providing income support and interest subvention.

The present agricultural borrowing of farmers should be frozen and taken over by the Centre by converting these as a long-term debt to be paid to the banks in 10-15 equal instalments by the Centre, the CM said in his letter.

For the future, farmers should be given production-linked credit fully reflecting upon their paying capacity, Amarinder Singh said, seeking Rs 1,161 crore for animal husbandry and dairy sectors.

To contain the Covid-19 contagion in the rural areas, Rs 5,068 crore will be required for liquid and solid waste management in the villages, the CM demanded.

For housing and urban affairs, Amarinder proposed a National Urban Employment Guarantee Act (NUEGA), to guarantee employment in urban areas for which an annual outlay of Rs 3,200 crore would be required. He has also solicited additional capital outlay of Rs 6,670 crore under Schemes like AMRUT, Smart City, PMAY etc., with certain relaxations, along with a grant of Rs 1,137 crore on account of revenue loss.

To meet the post-Covid online and other educational needs, the state has sought an assistance of Rs 3,080 crore, with another Rs 8 crore for online training and stipend at Rs 1,000 per month for students during the lockdown period.

The government also sought Rs 757 crore for new and renewable energy sector, Rs 571 crore for border area development and Rs 326 crore for the transport sector.

Besides seeking Rs 5,040 crore as fiscal assistance for the welfare of migrant labourers, the CM demanded that the Inter-State Migrant Workers Act should be revamped to safeguard their interests and basic rights. A financial assistance of Rs 2,571 crore has been solicited for Border Area Development.

The Punjab government also sought support for trade and industry, especially micro, small and medium enterprises.

The CM also demanded the non-fiscal component of the aid which included upward revision of capital outlay and targets under the MGNREGA and other major flagship programmes of the Centre such as the Smart City programme.

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