Chandigarh, April 27 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday drew the Centre’s attention to the critical needs of the state in the light of the unprecedented crisis and lockdown.
He urged the Union Home Minister to allow opening of small shops, businesses and industries in all areas except the containment zones, with full compliance of COVID prevention measures.
In a letter sent to Amit Shah, in response to the Centre’s request for a written submission of issues faced by the state, the Chief Minister has highlighted the pending issues that need the urgent attention of the government of India for reference and follow up.
While nine Chief Ministers had been identified to speak at the Prime Minister’s video conference, those of other states, including Punjab, had been asked to send a written submission listing pending issues to the Central government for consideration or follow-up action.
Among the various state related issues pending for the Centre’s attention, Amarinder Singh listed the release of state’s GST arrears of Rs 4,386.37 crore, as well as a revenue deficit grant to meet the shortfall in revenue combined with need for higher expenditure on relief and healthcare to manage and contain COVID-19.
Other pending issues cited by the Chief Minister include bonus to farmers for staggered purchase of wheat, as well as direct cash assistance to daily industrial and agricultural labour, including the migrant labour, an official statement said.
He also reiterated the state’s demand for assistance to MSMEs and power generation and distribution companies by way of interest subvention, deferment of loans by commercial banks and reduction in GST on coal.
These issues were of paramount importance and needed immediate attention, said Amarinder Singh, urging the Home Ministry to “appreciate and ensure an early action on these issues for further effective management of COVID-19 as also to provide requisite relief to all those who are adversely affected by this crisisa.
In a detailed listing of the issues pending with the government of India, the Chief Minister said a revenue grant for the next three months, with a flexibility to the states in spending as per local conditions, would help them tide over the acute fiscal crisis faced due to revenue shortfall.
He also reiterated his suggestion that the 15th Finance Commission should review its report for the current year as the situation has completely changed due to COVID-19.
The 15th Finance Commission should recommend devolution of funds for five years beginning from April 1,2021, instead of 2020, onwards after factoring in the impact of the pandemic, he added.
Amarinder Singh also urged the Centre to announce a special risk insurance of police personnel and sanitary workers engaged in fight against COVID.
He sought relief to daily wage labour and industrial labour in the form of provision of Universal Basic Income of Rs 6,000 per month to industrial and migrant labourers who have lost their jobs or employment due to the pandemic crisis.