Chandigarh, May 7:
Reiterating his demand for revenue grants to the states for three months, to meet the shortfall in revenues and the higher expenditure being incurred on relief and healthcare for COVID-19 containment and management, Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clearly define the way forward for the country’s economic revival and an exit strategy from Lockdown 3.0.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Chief Minister said, “the Exit Strategy may not only lay down the parameters to contain the COVID-19 within safe limits but should also define the path of economic revival. It should consider and focus on fiscal and economic empowerment of the States.”
Besides raising the demand for revenue grants, the Chief Minister also called for a directive from the Centre to the 15th Finance Commission to review its report for the current year, as the situation had completely changed due to COVID-19. He also said that the 15th Finance Commission should recommend devolution of funds for 5 years, beginning 1.4.2021 (instead of 2020), after factoring in the impact of COVID-19.
Captain Amarinder urged the Prime Minister to issue necessary directions to various ministries in this regard, in order to enable States to formulate clear strategies and path, post Lockdown 3.0 on May 17. The Chief Minister pointed out that this was necessary as Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdowns had led to unprecedented losses of jobs, businesses, and economic opportunities, and its true impact was yet to be known. Pointing out that it was very well known that the economy had slowed down and the GDP will not rise, the Chief Minister said Punjab’s revenues had declined by 88 per cent in April 2020.
“The poor have been the worst affected with damage to all aspects of their socio-economic living. The threat of poverty, hunger and health deprivation are far more imminent now. If socio-economic living of the common man is not restored immediately, there could be serious psychological dismemberment of our society. The loss of jobs and livelihood has in fact also severely impaired equity and civil liberties in our society,” he said, adding that these were the stark realities of today.
The Chief Minister, meanwhile, assured the Prime Minister that the Punjab Government would do everything possible to contain this deadly virus to save the lives of its people.