Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram Wednesday urged the government to announce a scheme on the lines of the “paycheck protection program” in the US to protect the salaries and wages of 12 crore employees in the wake of nationwide coronavirus lockdown.
“Time is of the essence. In the absence of a clear signal of assistance from the government during these extremely difficult times, the private sector will be forced to resort to large scale retrenchments and layoffs, which will devastate livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people,” the former finance minister said at a press conference through video conferencing.
“We urge the prime minister to step in urgently and announce an assistance package to protect the wages/salaries and pay cheques that are due in the next few days,” he said, urging the government to ensure the April month salary of workers in both in the MSME and non-MSME sectors.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a loan program that comes under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was passed in the US House and Senate last month. A nearly $350-billion program, the PPP intends to provide loans to businesses to guarantee eight weeks of payroll and other costs to help those businesses remain viable and allow their workers to pay their bills.
Reiterating his party’s stand on the MSME sector, Chidambaram urged the government to announce a special package for the sector and provide financial assistance to states to fight the novel coronavirus pandemic.
On April 25, Congress president Sonia Gandhi had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to announce a financial package for revival of the MSME sector — including earmarking of Rs 1 lakh crore each for ensuring protection of wages and for setting up a credit guarantee fund.
Chidmagovernment why it had taken the technical loan write-off route for fugitives like Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya
While maintaining that one cannot deny the rule that banks can write-off loans technically and recoveries can continue against willful defaulters, Chidambaram questioned the government why was the rule applied to fugitives like Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya.
“One is not denying such a rule that can be applied to a wilful defaulter. But, we are asking these are fugitives and they have left the country and are absconding. Why are you applying this rule to Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya,” he said.
“When they are fugitives, the technical rule in the book should not be applied to them. That is my view,” he added.
His remarks came after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that wilful defaulters were beneficiaries of ‘phone banking’ under the UPA regime and the Modi government is chasing them to recover the dues.
On Tuesday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala had alleged that the central government waived off Rs 68,607 crore worth of loans for a list of top 50 defaulters based on a RTI reply from the RBI.
(With inputs from PTI)
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