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