Covid-19: Sonia Gandhi demands special package for MSMEs, farmers

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 21, 2020

Congress President Sonia Gandhi. File Photo   -  PTI

Congress president Sonia Gandhi said on Saturday that the country will overcome the huge challenge of Covid with resilience and determination.

She urged the Centre to take action on issues such as shortage of Personal Protection Equipments (PPEs).

In a statement, She appealed all people to stay at home, unless urgency and exigencies demand otherwise. She said testing is the key to prevention. "In a nation of 130 crore, only 15,701 samples are reported to have been tested so far. Despite ample time, early warnings and lessons from other nations, we appear to have under utilised our public and private sector capacities. This must change. We must begin by testing all cases under surveillance and expand to all other symptomatic cases and those coming into contact with the ones testing positive," she demanded.

The Congress president said there is uncertainty and lack of information about number of beds, isolation chambers, ventilators, dedicated medical teams, medical supplies etc. including their location. "This information including location of each hospital and their emergency phone line numbers should be publicly shared. A dedicated portal for sharing these and all other necessary information is one way forward. Special budgetary allocation is an equally important factor," she said.

Citing reports suggesting scarcity of PPEs for medical teams engaged in dealing with infected or those suspected to be infected with coronavirus are of great concern. She demanded the Centre to grant special financial incentives for medical professionals. "As the numbers grow, non-availability of sufficient protective gear and lack of incentives can be a huge deterrent," she said.

She said the reports said that there is artificial shortages and black marketing of hand sanitisers, face masks and even liquid soap are alarming and asked the Centre to ensure adequate supply and take corrective action. "What is more unnerving is the fact that prices of essential commodities like vegetables, pulses, rice, etc. seem to be rising unchecked daily," she said.

The UPA chairperson said after demonetisation and slowing down of Indian economy, COVID-19 has been a huge setback to millions of daily wage earners, MGNREGA workers, adhoc and temporary employees, labourers, farmers and those in the unorganized sectors. "Even for regular employees, reports suggest massive lay off and retrenchments. Government has to put in place broad based social protection measures including direct cash financial help to these sections," she said.

"A comprehensive sector wise relief package needs to be announced forthwith by the Government including necessary tax breaks, interest subvention and deferment of liabilities. For the salaried class, Government and the RBI must consider a deferment of EMIs," she said.

Published on March 21, 2020

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