Karnataka: A week on, no clarity on govt’s proposed 2nd relief package

Updated on May 31, 2021 07:26 AM IST

The chief minister, on May 24, had announced that the government is mulling to provide a second financial package.

BS Yeddiurappa, however, responding to a specific question on the second financial package on Sunday said that it will be ready in two days.(Reuters File Photo)
BS Yeddiurappa, however, responding to a specific question on the second financial package on Sunday said that it will be ready in two days.(Reuters File Photo)
By, Bengaluru

A week after chief minister BS Yediyurappa said that a second financial package is under consideration, people aware of the developments on Sunday said that there has been little or no movement in working out the modalities for the proposed second relief package to help aid those hardest-hit due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown in the state.

The chief minister, however, responding to a specific question on the second financial package on Sunday said that it will be ready in two days. “In another two days, it is getting ready, we will do it,” Yediyurappa, who also holds the finance portfolio, said.

The chief minister, on May 24, had announced that the government is mulling to provide a second financial package.

Officials said that there is still no clarity on the intended beneficiaries nor the quantum of relief proposed in the possible second financial package.

A senior Karnataka government official said that the plans for a second financial package have not yet been “crystalised”, indicating the possibility of it being a non-starter so far, considering that there is just one week remaining before the end of the scheduled lockdown.

The lockdown in Karnataka is in place at least till June 7, post which the government is expected to consider lifting restrictions in a phased manner to allow economic activities to resume and bring in some much needed revenues to the cash-starved state.

The Karnataka government had announced 1,250 crore financial package on May 19 for those hit-hard by the pandemic including domestic workers, street vendors, auto and cab drivers, farmers and other sections.

Street vendors, auto and cab drivers however have expressed their disappointment over the package that includes a one-time payment, ranging between 2000- 3000. They said that the package was not just inadequate but also leaves a cloud of uncertainty if the relief would actually reach the intended sections, Hindustan Times had reported on May 21.

Yediyurappa had announced a total of 2100 crore financial package, in two tranches, last year but a significant number of persons are yet to benefit from the same, according to multiple persons aware of the developments.

In this year’s package, there has been a significant reduction in beneficiaries. For instance, last year, the government identified at least 7,75,000 auto and cab drivers but relief was given only to 2, 10,000 beneficiaries. This time around, the state government has announced that the new package would benefit only 2,10,000 beneficiaries, indicating that at least two thirds, if not more, people working in this sector have been completely left out. Activists, trade unions and others said that the same goes for almost all workers in the unorganised sector in Karnataka.

“Last time we took the full numbers and then could not trace them,” said one senior government official, requesting not to be named.

Reduction in the number of beneficiaries, increased documentation and problems in identification of those working in these sectors has already cast a shadow on the “relief”, Hindustan Times had reported.

The problem in identifying street vendors and other sections, largely since they do not possess identification cards, has also hampered the government’s vaccination drive as well.

While distributing relief materials to civic workers in Bengaluru on Sunday, Yediyurappa said that there are over 10 million people in the state who are suffering due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown, yet the number of beneficiaries for the 1250 crore package (direct cash benefit) is just around 1 million.

The Congress has accused the government of being “heartless” and termed the relief package as an “eyewash”.

Several other states in the country have offered financial packages including Delhi and Tamil Nadu among others, which entails direct cash transfer to those hit hard. Krishna Byre Gowda, former minister and Congress legislator from Bengaluru said that giving money directly to the poor would help kickstart the economy.

“If one rupee is spent, then it rotates at least five times in our economy. For economic revival, to kickstart and stimulate it, giving money to the poor is 100% an effective method,” Gowda said on Friday.

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