Punjab CM writes to Modi seeking fiscal aid of Rs 80,845 cr and non-fiscal assistance to save lives and secure livelihoods in `new normal’
Proposed package includes Rs. 26400 cr direct fiscal stimulus and waiver of long-term CCL debt for state’s fiscal recovery
Chandigarh: Pointing to the large-scale devastation and distress caused to the state due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister, seeking fiscal aid from the Government of India to the tune of Rs 80,845 crore, along with non-fiscal assistance on various counts, in order to save lives and secure livelihoods in the new normal.
The non-fiscal component of the aid sought by the Chief Minister includes waiver of long-term CCL debt, upward revision of capital outlay and targets under MGNREGA, and other major flagship programmes of the Union Government such as Smart City Programme, AMRUT, a new National Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme, etc, in addition to revamping of Inter-state Migrant Workers Act and amendments to Labour Reforms to ensure full protection of civil liberties and basic rights of agriculture and industrial labourers.
The Centre’s urgent intervention was 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 in the country, said the Chief Minister.
In his detailed memorandum, Captain Amarinder has drawn the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to 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. The new normal has also necessitated changes and repurposing in government programmes to meet the challenges of the present crisis, he added.
Realizing the need and imperatives of the new normal, the Government of Punjab has made a quick assessment of the requirements for rapid transformation that it needs to undertake in the current scenario, the Chief Minister said in his cover letter to the Prime Minister, adding that while the assessment may not be complete, “it surely indicates the multiple dimensions and magnitude of financial and economic upheaval that the states have to face and respond.”
Captain Amarinder further pointed out that “The Government of Punjab, despite all-out efforts to contain the Covid-19 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.”
Listing out the detailed support measures needed to revive the state’s economy while ensuring protection of life amid the continuing pandemic spread, the Chief Minister said a direct fiscal stimulus of Rs 26,400 crore and the waiver of the long-term CCL debt was extremely necessary for the fiscal recovery of the state government. Additionally, all central schemes should be 100% funded by the Government of India in FY 2020-21, he has further requested in the memorandum.
Listing out the areas in which assistance was urgent required, the Chief Minister said improvement in the state’s public health infrastructure from a long-term perspective had been estimated at a cost of Rs 6603 crore.
Further, the State would need and estimated Rs 15,975 crore for up-gradation of farm gate infrastructure, one-time farm debt waiver, providing income support, interest subvention, etc. , Captain Amarinder said, proposing that for far debt waiver, the present agricultural borrowings of the farmers should be frozen and taken over by the Government of Indi by converting these as a long term debt to be paid to the banks in 10-15 equal instalments by the Government of India. For the future, the farmers should be given production linked credit fully reflecting upon their paying capacity. Additionally, he has sought Rs. 1,161 crore for the animal husbandry and dairy sectors.
To contain the COVID-19 contagion in the rural areas, Rs. 5,068 crore would be required for liquid and solid waste management in the villages, in addition to upward revision of capital outlay and targets under MGNREGA from Rs 767 Crore to Rs 2,413 Crore, as per the state government estimates, said the Chief Minister, adding that total fiscal assistance of Rs.6,714 Crore was required for this sector.
For Housing and Urban Affairs, Captain Amarinder has proposed a National Urban Employment Guarantee Act (NUEGA), to guarantee employment in urban areas, or 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 is solicited.
To meet the post-Covid online and other educational needs of, the state has sought assistance of Rs. 3,080 crore, with another Rs 8 crore for online training and stipend at Rs 1000 per month for students during the lockdown period.
A total financial assistance of Rs. 575 crore would be required to boost the new and renewable energy sector in Punjab, in addition to certain policy interventions, the Chief Minister pointed out.
Further, financial assistance of Rs 2,571 crore has been solicited for Border Area Development in an integrated manner, with acquisition of farm land beyond the border fencing or adequate compensation to farmers for frequent disruptions in those areas.
To allow the transport sector to provide the services while maintaining social distance norms and other precautionary measures, a total fiscal stimulus of ₹326 Crore would be required, as per the memorandum, which has also estimated Rs 5040 crore as total fiscal stimulus need for the welfare of migrant labourers. In addition, the Inter-State Migrant Workers Act should be revamped to safeguard interest and basic rights of these workers, said the Chief Minister.
Also, trade, business and Industry, specifically MSMEs, need strong support from the Government of India, including interest waiver, broader ESI/ EPF contribution, higher interest subvention and expeditious GST refunds, the Chief Minister has underlined in the memorandum. Similarly, the Power sector needs several policy interventions by the Government of India, he stressed, adding that labour process reforms would be required to facilitate quicker recovery of the industrial sector without causing damage to civil liberties and basic rights of the workers.