JAIPUR: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot wants the Centre to provide a national package of Rs 20 lakh crores to revive the economy though the Centre has allocated only a Rs 1.7 lakh crore package. Gehlot added that in Japan, Germany, USA and UK the relief package has been 12-15 percent of the GDP. Gehlot also mentioned about 15 suggestions that he has sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
After a video conference with PM Modi on Monday to discuss the situation created by the coronavirus crisis in the country, Gehlot asserted :‘‘Our country and all state governments have suffered huge losses due to coronavirus pandemic and our revenue has dropped by 80 to 90 per cent. Our industry, trade and real estate sectors will need huge relief. We need to open the lockdown in a phased manner to restart economic activity or else people will die of hunger even if they escape corona.’’
Chief Minister Gehlot also said that PM Modi sought suggestions in writing from the chief ministers who did not get the chance to speak during the video conference interaction. Gehlot revealed that he has forwarded a 15-point list of demands to PM Modi to cope with the crisis arising out of the coronavirus pandemic. These include a grant of Rs 1 lakh crore to the state and a 60% Wage and Means Advance from RBI which should be interest-free.
Gehlot wants a 6-month interest-free moratorium on payment of loan instalments and the principal amount of loan taken by the state government, its boards, corporations or companies (including Power Companies) from the Union Government and its various institutions. The allocation of loans to states should be increased from 3 to 5 per cent. In addition, the Rajasthan CM wants the monthly allocation of foodgrains for the state to be increased to 30 thousand metric tonnes in consonance with current population estimates
CM Gehlot wants states to be given Rs 1 lakh crore grant. The basis to give grant could be based on population or the impact of COVID-19 pandemic or the standards prescribed by the GST Council or the Interstate Council. Gehlot has also suggested that the GST compensation period should be increased to 10 years from the existing five.
To combat the corona crisis, Gehlot also wants Centre to go for centralised purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits, masks, testing kits, ventilators etc. of international quality standards and make these available to the states.
To help farmers, Gehlot says that there should be 50 per cent procurement of agriculture crops on MSP instead of 25 per cent. He also wants the Centre to provide a big economic stimulus package to bail out the trade and industry sector. In addition, Gehlot has demanded that fiscal expenditure should be encouraged to bail out the economy. For this, the Union Government should immediately release the first installment of its share of the centrally sponsored schemes and the process of releasing the amount should also be simplified.
Moreover, the Rajasthan CM wants the Centre to come out with a scheme for payment of salaries to workers by the MSMEs that are not in a position to pay the salaries and wages to their labourers by bailing out employers. Gehlot has also has demanded that there should be a national plan for the return of migrants in a phased manner using special transport. Finally, he wants that the Centre should give freedom to states for restoring economic and industrial activities instead of having uniform national regulations.
While Gehlot has clearly spelt out a detailed list of demands/suggestions, it will be interesting to see how many are accepted/implemented by the Centre.