Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has expressed disappointment over the announcements made by the Union Finance Minister, terming them as inadequate to address the concerns of the people, businesses and industry in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic gripping the nation.
The announcements made by Nirmala Sitharaman do not fully reflect the concerns in the prevailing situation, said the Chief Minister, underlining the need for a comprehensive package to build the confidence of all sectors of the economy and support the poor/underprivileged in this hour of need.
It was the need of the hour for the Centre to urgently come out with a detailed economic package without further delay, said Captain Amarinder, pointing out that the Finance Minister had failed to come out with details of the Task Force announced by the Prime Minister to work on such a package.
No suggestions had been taken so far from the states on the composition of the Task Force, nor any details shared, he said, hoping that it would be representative and would rise to the occasion triggered by this unprecedented crisis. Noting that Punjab had already sent in its suggestions to the Prime Minister and the Union Finance Minister on the interventions required by the central government, he expressed the hope those would be taken cognizance of.
The Chief Minister said he had hoped for more than mere postponement of date of filing tax returns. Even the due date has not been changed in spite of the fact that most states are under curfew/lockdown, he pointed out. Captain Amarinder said the Finance Minister had even failed to make any mention of EMIs on loan repayments and default.
There was no adequate attention being paid to the plight of the poor especially the unorganised workers, which all the states had been pressing for, said the Chief Minister. There was urgent need, he said, to double the PDS quota and provide free of cost ration at least for two months to the people in the prevailing situation, as already sought by the Punjab government.
Captain Amarinder pointed out that he had also sought from the Centre lump sum assistance for stakeholders in tourism and hospitality sector, such as taxi drivers, freelance tour guides, unregistered tour operators, dhabawala, restaurant, rehriwala, who had been severely hit by the lockdowns across states.