The CPI(M) on Monday said the government can raise money to pay compensation to the families of COVID-19 victims if it abandons its “preoccupation" with maintaining the levels of fiscal deficit in a crisis. The Centre, in an affidavit in the Supreme Court, has said paying ex-gratia compensation is beyond the fiscal affordability and the finances of the central and the state governments as they are under severe strain.
“The argument that the distribution of ex-gratia payments will strain the finances of the government is specious. The central government can very well raise the required resources if it abandons its preoccupation with maintaining the levels of fiscal deficit in a crisis of this dimension. Such fiscal fundamentalism in this catastrophe makes no sense," the party said in a statement. It also said crores of people have lost their means of livelihood over the last one year and are receiving very little help even in the struggle against the coronavirus pandemic with grossly inadequate health facilities, shortages of life-saving medicines etc.
“The informal sector that is the basis for sustenance for crores of daily wage labourers has been virtually destroyed. This Covid pandemic came on top of such ruination that began earlier with the demonetisation and GST. “Under these circumstances, ex-gratia payment to families who lost their members to the pandemic is a basic humanitarian need," the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said.
It demanded that the compensation to the families of Covid victims should be paid in accordance with the provisions of the Disaster Management Act.