Punjab CM Amarinder Singh urges finance minister to release Rs 2,088 crore GST arrears
CHANDIGARH: Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday sought urgent intervention of the Union finance minister to mitigate the crisis caused by Covid-19 outbreak in the state, including immediate release of GST compensation arrears of Rs 2,088 crore, specific only to Punjab as on March 31 as well as deferment of instalments of industrial and agricultural loans by commercial banks.
In a letter, Amarinder asked Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman for some additional steps to mitigate the crisis caused by the outbreak of Covid-19 global pandemic. Sitharaman had earlier called up Amarinder, who subsequently sent her a detailed letter, for listing out certain important proposals to help out the state in this critical time, according to an official spokesperson.
Amarinder conveyed to Sitharaman that for opening the banks, he had asked the state finance department to issue necessary guidelines to facilitate the common man in meeting his banking requirements.
In addition to the Punjab-specific GST compensation arrears, the chief minister proposed that the balance GST compensation due from other states may be released. In his letter, Amarinder further proposed that the Centre should ask the RBI to raise the ways and means to tide over the shortfall in receipts. He also suggested that the Centre may raise the borrowing limit of states under the FRBM Act from 3% to 4%.
In addition to deferment of instalments of industrial loans, the chief minister has asked that commercial banks should defer loan instalments for agriculture loans, which Punjab had already done as far as cooperative banks are concerned. Further, in line with the initiative taken by the state government with respect to cooperative banks, he has also sought waiver of three months’ interest on agricultural/crop loans by commercial banks.
Referring to the special insurance already announced by the Union finance minister for health workers, Amarinder has asked for a one-time special insurance on similar lines also for sanitary workers and police personnel, as they too are frontline warriors in the fight against Covid-19. He has also sought a grant of Rs 300 crore for health infrastructure and personnel.
Under MGNREGA, Amarinder has proposed a payment of 15-day unemployment allowance per month for three months to mitigate rural distress on account of lockdown on 90:10 sharing pattern. In addition, he has suggested allowing 10-day wages under MGNREGA to small and marginal farmers to defray labour costs.
Given the delay in harvesting of wheat, the CM has asked for bonus to farmers for delayed procurement of wheat to incentivise social distancing and prevent over-crowding in mandis. In another suggestion, Amarinder has proposed doubling of the component of 25% funds under centrally-sponsored schemes that can be used as flexi funds for state specific needs, including mitigation/restoration activities in case of natural calamities.
Source- Times of India.
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