‘Where is fiscal stimulus?’ Manish Tewari questions govt’s Covid-19 relief package

Congress leader Manish Tewari talks about the Rs 20 lakh crore relief package announced by the Narendra Modi government for various sectors to tide over the Covid-19 crisis.
Senior Congress leader and former Union minister Manish Tewari.(HT File Photo)
Senior Congress leader and former Union minister Manish Tewari.(HT File Photo)
Updated on May 14, 2020 08:39 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | BySaubhadra Chatterji | Edited by: Amit Chaturvedi

On a day when the government announced the first part of the Rs 20 lakh crore financial relief package for various sectors to tide over the Covid-19 crisis, Congress leader and former Union minister Manish Tewari said that it is a clear case of skewed priorities of the government.

He also said what Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced is just liquidity plus package, there is no fiscal stimulus.

Here are the excerpts from Tewari’s interview with Hindustan Times’ Saubhadra Chatterji.

Q: The government announced the first part of its Rs 20 lakh crore fiscal package. What is your reaction.

Manish Tewari: It is a clear case of skewed priorities of the government. Today, India faces the single biggest humanitarian crisis after the Partition in 1947 and the displacement of people from East Pakistan. There are millions of migrant labourers left without jobs and shelter above their heads. But, for the government, it seems they don’t exist.

Q: But this is just the first part of a series of announcements.

Manish Tewari: Yes. And we would be closely watching the future announcements too. But the MSME package doesn’t overshadow the fact that the government’s top priority should have been those millions of workers. Why is the government silent on millions of poor, hungry and devastated migrant workers? The second priority of the government should have been to pump up the MGNREGS to provide work to these jobless workers.

Q: But the government’s first package had announcements for the farmers and rural India. The Centre has already released Rs 33,300 crore under MGNREGS for this year.

Manish Tewari: Do you know the problems farmers are facing today? Yes, the government has given Rs 2,000 under PM Kisan to farmers but many of them are not getting the MSP for their produce. They are offered lower prices on grounds like colour variation, high moisture, etc. This is not the time to do such things. Farmers need to be paid their dues but it is not happening.

Q: Do you think that this package will provide a fresh lease of life to Indian MSME sector?

Manish Tewari: We welcome the subordinate debt scheme of Rs 20,000 crore and equity corpus fund of Rs 10,000 crore. But if you see the MSME package, it is in favour of the large MSME enterprises, and not the smaller ones. Where is the fiscal stimulus? This is just a liquidity plus package.

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Thursday, May 19, 2022