CM seeks ₹4,000 crore from Cen­tre

While mea­sures have been taken, we must pre­pare for a higher case load in the com­ing weeks: CM

The Hindu - - FRONT PAGE - Spe­cial Correspond­ent

Chief Min­is­ter Edap­padi K. Palaniswam­i on Wed­nes­day wrote to Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, urg­ing him to pro­vide a spe­cial as­sis­tance of ₹4,000 crore for tak­ing fi­nan­cial re­lief mea­sures.

Chief Min­is­ter Edap­padi K. Palaniswam­i on Wed­nes­day as­sured peo­ple that the govern­ment had made ar­range­ments to en­sure the sup­ply of es­sen­tial com­modi­ties such as veg­eta­bles, milk, meat, medicine and other pro­vi­sions.

Dur­ing his tele­vised ad­dress to the peo­ple of the Stat, he said that they need not panic, as ar­range­ments had been made to en­sure smooth sup­ply of essentials. He re­it­er­ated that peo­ple should ex­er­cise phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing, even while go­ing out for es­sen­tial sup­plies.

The 21-day lock­down across the coun­try by the Cen­tre was “not a va­ca­tion”, but a govern­ment or­der for safety of each fam­ily, he said. Since dis­trict bor­ders were closed, he re­quested peo­ple against go­ing out of sta­tion.

“Those who have ar­rived from for­eign coun­tries should vol­un­tar­ily come for­ward to ex­er­cise self-quar­an­tine. If they fail to do so, fam­ily mem­bers, rel­a­tives, neigh­bours can alert lo­cal bod­ies, the Health Department or the po­lice,” he said.

Ear­lier in the day, Mr. Palaniswam­i wrote to Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, urg­ing him to pro­vide a spe­cial as­sis­tance of ₹4,000 crore to the State for tak­ing pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sures and fi­nan­cial re­lief mea­sures over the loss be­ing caused by COVID-19.

While funds to the tune of ₹3,000 crore were needed for strength­en­ing the health in­fra­struc­ture and for es­sen­tial equip­ment and medicines, ₹500 crore was needed to pay 50% wages for the wage em­ploy­ment lost in March, and ex­pected to be lost in April and May. An­other ₹500 crore was needed for pro­vid­ing a re­lief pack­age for work­ers of the un­or­gan­ised sec­tor in the State.

He also re­quested that the fis­cal deficit lim­its of 3% of GSDP be re­laxed for the fi­nan­cial years 2019-20 and 2020-21. The lock­down for 21 days would add to the huge strain that the econ­omy of the State had al­ready been put un­der, he noted.

Fur­ther, an ad­di­tional bor­row­ing of 33% above the level per­mit­ted for the fis­cal year 2019-20 may be al­lowed for 2020-21, to en­able States to meet the ad­di­tional ex­pen­di­ture re­quire­ments, the Chief Min­is­ter said.

Since a large num­ber of in­dus­tries and busi­nesses, es­pe­cially MSMEs, faced con­sid­er­able loss of pro­duc­tion, and cash flow was heav­ily con­strained, Mr. Palaniswam­i sought the reschedul­ing of bank loan re­pay­ments, at least for two quar­ters, without treat­ing them as NPAs.

“We ea­gerly await the an­nounce­ment of the eco­nomic and fi­nan­cial re­lief pack­age,” he said.

Point­ing out that the sup­ply of PDS com­modi­ties was to be en­sured, he re­quested that stocks of food­grains avail­able with the FCI be re­leased to the States and Tamil Nadu, at BPL rates.

“Tamil Nadu is vul­ner­a­ble to the virus, be­cause a large num­ber of in­ter­na­tional pas­sen­gers tran­sit through the four in­ter­na­tional air­ports and the four ma­jor ports in the State. Tamil Nadu also ad­joins States where the out­break has ini­tially been more se­vere. Hence, while im­me­di­ate mea­sures have been taken, we will need to pre­pare for a sig­nif­i­cantly higher case load in the com­ing weeks and months,” he said.

He said that 10,000 beds had been ear­marked in govern­ment and pri­vate hos­pi­tals, as iso­la­tion wards, across the State. “We have scaled up pro­cure­ment of req­ui­site med­i­cal equip­ment and de­ploy­ment of health hu­man re­sources,” he said.

B. JOTHI RAMALINGAM ■

The East Coast Road in Chen­nai wears a de­serted look af­ter the lock­down im­posed by the Cen­tre kicked in.

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