In the backdrop of the extension of lockdown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar came up with suggestions to maintain the economic balance in the thick of Coronavirus. According to various estimates, extension of the nationwide lockdown till May 3 will inflict an economic loss of USD 234.4 billion, and result in stagnant GDP for the calendar year 2020. The economic growth will be zero for the calendar year 2020 and when seen from a fiscal year perspective, will rise by 0.8 per cent in 2021.
Expressing distress over the situation in such dire time, the veteran leader came up with five suggestion for the central government to maintain the economy of the country.
1. RBI has implemented a new deferment policy regarding the loan repayment in the background of COVID-19 lockdown. This should be made applicable to State Debt as well. The central government should defer payment of instalments to RBI on State Debt at least for six months.
2. Most of the nationalised banks have flushed off more than 10 lakh crore of funds to corporates in the last five years. In the situation of COVID-19 pandemic, these nationalised banks should extend interest-free advances to the state government.
3. More than 1.3 Lakh tonnes of wheat purchased by FCI last year is still not lifted from the godowns in Punjab. Since this year’s wheat harvest is on and there is a problem of storage, the government of India should channelise the yield to the poor, needy and migrant labourers in the states.
4. The state governments are seeking relaxation in state fiscal deficit limit to deal with the additional expenditure and revenue fall. Under the FRBM act, states are mandated to keep their fiscal deficit under 3% of GSDP. States have sought relaxation in their limit by as much as 4%.
5. The CM's Relief Fund has always been kept out of the CSR provision. Corporates' contributions to CM’s Relief Fund should be considered as CSR. All-State Disaster Management Authorities will be empowered to deal with COVID related crisis in various quarters if it is done so.
Meanwhile, the centre has imposed a complete lockdown in India till May 3 as a measure to prevent the spread of deadly COVID-19 which has infected more than 11,000 people in the country and claimed more than 300 lives. While all other activities have been brought at a halt in the wake of nationwide lockdown, the manufacture and supply of essentials commodities continue to function in the country.
As a plan of action ahead of monsoon, the Maharashtra government has issued revised protocol to be followed by the citizens during the three-week-long curfew. While many of the guidelines issued by the Maharashtra Government follow those issued by the Centre, one additional one that sticks out is that all the urgent pre-monsoon related works will continue during the lockdown.