Punjab Chief Minister Capt 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 phase 3 of the lockdown.
In a letter to the PM, the chief minister said, “The exit strategy may not only lay down the parameters to contain 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.”
Punjab was the first state in the country to implement a curfew to check spread of coronavirus. Amarinder has also constituted a task force for chalking out an exit strategy for the state, apart from a panel headed by Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
Besides raising the demand for revenue grants, Amarinder 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 five years, beginning May 1, 2021 (instead of 2020), after factoring in the impact of COVID-19.
Amarinder urged the PM to issue 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 said this was necessary as there had been unprecedented loss of jobs, businesses, and economic opportunities, and the pandemic’s true impact was yet to be known. Pointing out that the economy had slowed down and the GDP will not rise, Amarinder said Punjab’s revenues had declined by 88 per cent in April.
“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 wrote.
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