Covid-19: India moving towards financial emergency, states rendered helpless by govt, claim Opposition leaders
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal, former finance minister of Jammu and Kashmir Haseeb Drabu, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI secretary D Raja and writer and economist Sanjay Baru attended the meet.Updated: Apr 27, 2020 23:55 IST
Finance ministers of Opposition- ruled states on Monday said they fear country is moving towards a financial emergency and no concrete measures are being taken by the Centre to address the mounting woes of the states as they remain helpless amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The ministers were addressing a webinar hosted by Gulati institute for Finance and Taxation (GIFT) in Thiruvananthapuram. The opposition leaders said they want the Centre to take immediate loan from the Reserve Bank and transfer the money directly to the states. Instead of this the Centre is waiting situation to be worsened and if people suspect a financial emergency they can’t be blamed, they said.
All states, the ministers said, should come together and fight what they called ‘unilateral decisions of the union government.’ Despite emergency situation, the union finance minister is yet to call a meeting of state finance ministers even as the states face a major fiscal crisis as all sources of revenue shrunk like never before, they said.
The meeting was called by Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Issac in the backdrop of states plagued by fiscal constraints in dealing with the pandemic and many of them were forced to cut salaries of its employees.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal, former finance minister of Jammu and Kashmir Haseeb Drabu, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI secretary D Raja and writer and economist Sanjay Baru attended the webinar. Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar was among those listed as speakers but he was not seen in attendance.
“Delhi is in dire straits. If the situation continued like this even the health sector will also be affected. Being a consumerist state we are suffering heavily due to loss of economic activities. We need immediate help,” said Manish Sisodia. Punjab Finance Minister Badal said Rs 1000 crore was due in Goods and Services Tax (GSST) to the state and the Centre was not even ready to part with this amount.
“There is an undeclared emergency in the country. The country is going through a difficult situation and the economy is in doldrums. We don’t want mere slogans now. The centre is yet to come up with a concrete plan to revive the economy,” said Jairam Ramesh.
The Kerala Finance Minister said that even during the pandemic there is no end to discrimination. The Centre had recently said corporate donations to PM-CARES come under the CSR but such donations to the CM relief fund do not come under the category. “We have been asking for the state FMs’ meeting for quite some time. But it is yet to take place. We have been hearing only monologues. We don’t need mere self praise or kudos. We need proper share and money to tide over the crisis,” said Issac adding the initiative to bring together opposition ruled states will continue.