New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to give strong consideration to the economic impact of coronavirus and suggested relief measures the government could offer to small and medium enterprises as well as the poor.
In a letter to the prime minister, Tharoor said the country was at a "critical stage" in its campaign against the virus and expert-level groups such as the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) have pointed out that efforts must be targeted at preventing the third phase of transmission of this virus.
"If we can implement comprehensive interventions at this key stage our nation can significantly move forward in the fight against this virus," the MP from Thiruvananthapuram said.
The Congress leader also made a series of suggestions to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
"In order to minimise the spread of the virus, breaking the chain of transmission becomes vital. As many experts have already pointed out self-isolation is key in this regard," he said.
Some of the state governments have taken proactive steps by directing the closure of educational institutes, cinema halls and other places frequented by the public, however, this should be taken a step further by encouraging all non-essential personnel to also take up self-isolation and work from home where possible.
"While we pay attention to interventions to arrest the crisis from a health perspective, we must also give strong consideration towards the economic and financial impact of this epidemic," he said in the letter.
With the majority of the operations of small and medium enterprises coming to a halt in this environment, the current situation will affect those working in such companies, as well as entrepreneurs, those who are self-employed and so on, he said.
"Even as we help small and medium business and those that have been employed by them, we must also pay attention to participants in the informal economy, fellow citizens who under the current circumstances do not have the capacity to stay at home since it will affect the daily income they currently earn." Tharoor said.
"For these members it is vital that the government looks into a range of interventions such as offering a temporary aid or resource package that can help them tide over the current crisis whilst at the same time allowing them to actively take up the process of self-isolation," he said.
Given that the recent gains from low international crude oil prices have been absorbed by the exchequer rather than being passed on to the people of this country, it is only fitting that some of these resources are utilised to bring relief to the financial burden of the common man in the time of a crisis of this magnitude, Tharoor said.
"While this is no way an exhaustive list of suggestions, they emerge from professional colleagues of mine in the All India Professionals' Congress, which I chair. I do hope you will take the time to consider some of these constructively," he said.
In a tweet, Tharoor said he has proposed specific relief measures the government could offer Indian enterprises to help them absorb the "shock".