Work closely with states to mitigate COVID-19 impact on economy, Punjab CM urges Modi

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Published: June 16, 2020 6:12 PM

Singh recalled that when in early April he had said that the coronavirus crisis could go on till September, he had been called an alarmist by some people.

Singh recalled that when in early April he had said that the coronavirus crisis could go on till September, he had been called an alarmist by some people.Singh recalled that when in early April he had said that the coronavirus crisis could go on till September, he had been called an alarmist by some people. (ANI Image)

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday requested the Centre to work closely with states to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy while stressing that the lockdown to limit the spread of the infection can’t continue indefinitely.

In a video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Punjab CM suggested to set up a group, including chief ministers, to discuss and formulate a coordinated Centre-state response to the impact of COVID on the economy and governments across the country.

The prime minister is holding two-day deliberations with chief ministers to review the coronavirus situation and management strategies to deal with the crisis.

PM Modi appreciated Punjab’s coronavirus micro containment and house-to-house surveillance strategy, said a state government release here.

Modi asked all other states to adopt the model, which was helping Punjab successfully control the spread of the pandemic to a significant extent, the release said.

Taking part in the discussions, CM Amarinder Singh said while living with COVID was the new normal as the lockdown can’t continue indefinitely, the need of the hour is to take care of both lives and livelihoods, as the PM had himself said in his earlier video conference in April.

Singh recalled that when in early April he had said that the coronavirus crisis could go on till September, he had been called an alarmist by some people.

But with experts now warning that the pandemic could continue even beyond September, it is important to learn to co-exist with it and cope with it better, he stressed.

Calling for urgent steps to mitigate Punjab’s financial stress, the CM said a detailed memorandum has already been sent to the Centre.

Even as he thanked the prime minister for the release of Rs 2,800 crore in GST arrears in early June, Singh said though he appreciated that the Centre was also under financial stress, he had to request for the release of the state’s pending share of taxes to tide over the fiscal crisis.

The crisis in Punjab is likely to be acute with around Rs 25,000-30,000 crore shortfall in revenue collection on various counts, he said.

Even though Punjab’s contribution to the all-India cases was less than one per cent, with a mortality rate of 2.1 per cent and recovery rate of 75 per cent, the curve is rising as a result of the inbound travellers and the easing of restrictions and more mixing of people, the CM said.

Emphasising the need for more tests, despite the current 5,527 tests per 10 lakh population in Punjab being higher than the all-India average of 4,088, Singh reiterated his request for direction to central institutions in Chandigarh and Punjab to increase their testing capacity.

Singh said the state government was working on a multi-pronged strategy to fight the pandemic.

Some restrictions have been imposed on weekends and holidays, and strict enforcement of all protocols was being ensured through fines. he said.

The focus is currently on a micro-containment strategy to isolate small ‘mohallas’ or villages rather than close down larger areas, he said.

A special app had also been launched for house-to-house surveillance to detect any possible cases and persons with co-morbidities to catch high-risk patients early, the CM added.

The CM also urged for a relook at some of the conditions imposed on availing two per cent additional borrowing, pointing out that the borrowing was a loan that states have to repay and not a grant by the Centre.

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