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Covid-19 Lockdown: Congress Asks PM to Be Bold in Declaring Financial Package

File photo of senior Congress leader Anand Sharma.

File photo of senior Congress leader Anand Sharma.

The opposition party also demanded that the central government pays all pending dues to states to enable them to fight the coronavirus outbreak, besides also giving each of them special economic packages.

The Congress on Monday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be bold in declaring a financial package of at least 5 to 6 per cent of India's GDP to ensure economic recovery post the COVID-19 lockdown.

The opposition party also demanded that the central government pays all pending dues to states to enable them to fight the coronavirus outbreak, besides also giving each of them special economic packages.

Senior Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said the government must also allow CSR and industry contributions to the CM Relief Funds in various states on the same lines as that granted to PM Cares Fund, as not doing so would amount to being unfair and discriminatory towards states.

"These are extraordinary times and require extraordinary actions. That is why the Prime Minister should be bold and declare an economic package to help revive various sectors of the economy post lockdown," Sharma said addressing a press conference via video.

"We expect that the economic package should be at least 5 to 6 per cent of India's GDP," he said, adding that many countries like UK, France and Germany have declared economic packages that are 15 per cent of their GDP. He said the USA has an declared an economic package of 10 per cent of its GDP.

The senior Congress leader said action is required in this regard and the government at this juncture should not be concerned about the fiscal deficit or inflation.

Sharma also said that each state must get a special package or grant from the Centre and all all pending dues be paid to states to help them tide over the financial crisis in the wake of economic lockdown.

Sharma also said that since the lockdown was hurriedly imposed, it must ensure its phased lifting which is seamlessly coordinated with states and ensure that the suffering of the poor mitigated.

The former Commerce Minister said the government must evolve a policy to ensure that no pharmaceutical, insurance and financial sector industry be taken over by foreign entities amid COVID-19 crisis.

"The government of India has to be very careful. It should tell the SEBI and RBI to take steps in this regard. We are concerned over takeover attempts by foreign entities on pharma industry, as well as some companies in financial and insurance sector," he said.

"No country in the world allows that. There has to be a policy, India must not allow that to happen," he said, pointing out that India's pharmaceutical sector manufactures some critical medicines.

Sharma also demanded a special package for the revival of the industry, especially the MSME sector, for which he sought a Factoring Fund together with allowing them funds with zero per cent interest by banks.

He cited an ILO study whereby it is feared that 400 million Indian workers will sink in poverty due to the prolonged lockdown, as it is unsustainable.


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