The Fact News Service
Chandigarh, May 11
Punjab Chief Minister on Monday pitched for extension of the lockdown, but with a carefully crafted strategy, backed by fiscal and economic empowerment of the states, to save lives and secure livehood. Clearly favouring continuation of a strict lockdown the Chief Minister said at the Video Conference with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that states needed to be given greater flexibility in micro-planning as part of a carefully planned exit strategy, encompassing both Covid containment and a defined path of economic revival.
The Exit Strategy should consider and focus on fiscal and economic empowerment of the states, which are responsible for the real action directly impinging upon the livelihood and social health of the common man, said the Chief Minister, suggesting that states should be allowed great flexibility in micro-planning, with MSMEs to be allowed to function in Red Zone districts with proper safeguards. The decision on designating the red, orange/yellow and green zones should be left to the states, which were more cognizant of the ground realities, he said.
Captain demanded urgent financial assistance to states to meet at least 33% of their committed liabilities, along with revenue grants to the states for 3 months to meet shortfall in revenue and to fund expenditure on Covid-19.
Punjab Chief Minister also called for a National Strategy on Covid testing for making the battle more effective. Chief Minister also requested for early declaration of MSP on Paddy and a bonus on non-burning of paddy stubble.
The Chief Minister informed the Prime Minister that Punjab was losing Rs 3000 crore per month in revenue (totally 88% of the estimated revenue loss recorded in April), along with Rs 30 crore daily loss for Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd (a decline of 30%). He also reiterated his demand for immediate release of the Punjab’s GST arrears of Rs. 4365.37 crore.