In her first reaction to the 15 measures of the economic package announced by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee termed it as a "big zero". According to her, the package provided nothing as far as public spending, money transfer to states, MSME and unorganized sector are concerned. Contending that the package was an "eyewash", she questioned why the farmers' loans had not been waived off. Moreover, Banerjee claimed that the Centre was misleading the people about the package constituting 10% of the Gross Domestic Product.
Centre's special economic package a "big zero"; it has nothing for states: WB CM Mamata Banerjee— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) May 13, 2020
Centre trying to bulldoze federalism, mislead people with economic package: WB CM Mamata Banerjee— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) May 13, 2020
Addressing a press briefing, the West Bengal CM stated that the rights of the state governments were being bulldozed in the name of the nationwide lockdown. She alleged that PM Modi and the Union Finance Minister were speaking in different voices over the state of the economy. Banerjee also ruled out the possibility of bringing in an ordinance to increase the working hours of the workers. She criticised the states which had introduced such measures.
Currently, there are 74,281 confirmed novel coronavirus cases in India out of which 24,386 patients have recovered while 2,415 casualties have been reported. Earlier in the day, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled the first set of 15 measures of the financial package worth Rs.20 lakh crore. She stated that PM Narendra Modi laid down the vision of Atmanirbhar India (self-reliant India) after deep consultation with several sections of the society. Sitharaman also mentioned that the focus of the package is on the factors of production- land, labour, liquidity, and others.
The measures to revitalise the MSME sector include Rs.3 lakh crore collateral-free automatic loans for businesses, including MSMEs, Rs. 20,000 crore subordinate debt for MSMEs, Rs. 50,000 crore equity infusion through MSME Fund of Funds, revising the definition of MSMEs and the prohibition of global tenders in government procurement tenders up to Rs.200 crore. Other measures such as Rs.2500 crore EPF support for business and workers for 3 more months, reduction of EPF contribution for business and workers for 3 months, Rs.30,000 crore liquidity facility for NBFCs/HFCs/MFIs, Rs.45,000 crore Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme 2.0 for NBFCs and Rs.90,000 crore liquidity injection for DISCOMs were also announced. Furthermore, the registration and completion date of all registered projects expiring on or after March 25, 2020, shall be extended suo-moto by 6 months. The due date of income tax return, tax audit, assessments and the Vivad se Vishwas scheme has also been extended. Additionally, all Central agencies shall provide an extension to construction work, service contracts etc. by 6 months.