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₹1.75 lakh-crore package not enough, says Opposition

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 26, 2020 Published on March 26, 2020

With crops ready for harvest, the issue of closed markets and stranded workers has not been addressed, they say

There were mixed reactions from Opposition parties on the financial package announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to tackle the lockdown due to Covid 19.

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi welcomed the financial package, but the Congress said the announcements were too little and too late. Gandhi said the announcements are in the right direction.

Move in right direction

“The Government announcement today of a financial assistance package, is the first step in the right direction. India owes a debt to its farmers, daily wage earners, labourers, women & the elderly who are bearing the brunt of the ongoing lockdown,” he said on Twitter.

Rahul Gandhi also requested for urgent release of ₹2.66 crores from his MPLADS funds for the purchase of ventilators, testing kits, PPEs and other medical equipment.

Congress chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala said the announcements are too little and too late. “Farmers are supposed to get ₹6,000 under the PM Kisan Yojna. They should be paid the entire amount in April,” Surjewala said. “Over 334 lakh hectares of wheat are ready for harvest now. But all the markets are shut. How should the farmer take his crop to the market? If harvest is delayed, at least 40 per cent of the crop will be lost.” Harvesting should be categorised as an an essential activity, he said.

‘Act fast’

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the announcement defeats the aim of preventing ‘community-spread.’ “This is not the time to be preoccupied by ‘fiscal deficit’. If ₹7.78 lakh crore worth of loans of the rich can be waived, then clearly there is no dearth of resources. The priority is to save human lives and defeat the pandemic. The ₹1.75-lakh-crore package announced today missed out on a crucial issue of the migrant workers returning to their own States. We have airlifted Indians from many countries abroad, surely our own brethren should have been provided with food and shelter, to either stay where they are currently or to be transported to their home States. This failure is defeating the purpose of a 21-day lockdown when big crowds are surging, threatening ‘community-spread’. This should be remedied at once,” Yechury said in a statement.

He said the announcement to give ₹1,000 to aged widows and the disabled is too little and added that the insurance cover for health workers come at no cost to the government. “There is no clarity if this covers the private sector. What they require immediately is protective gear, medicines and adequate testing facilities. There is no mention of this,” he said. “The enhancement of the MNREGA wages by ₹20 is a joke. Currently there is no work going on. What they need is direct cash transfers, or payment of wages irrespective of work,” he added.

Published on March 26, 2020
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