TN CM seeks Rs 4,000 crore aid from Centre
Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Wednesday sought a special assistance of Rs 4,000 crore and related financial relief from the Centre to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic as it has affected the poor, workers in the unorganised sector, industries and businesses, especially MSMEs. The appeal comes a day after Palaniswami announced Rs 1,000 as relief and free ration for April to all family cardholders.
The special assistance sought by the Chief Minister includes Rs 3,000 crore for augmenting and strengthening health infrastructure and medicines; Rs 500 crore to compensate 50 per cent wage loss faced by MGNREGA workers during March, April and May; and Rs 500 crore as relief package for construction workers and workers in unorganised sector to help them overcome their immediate hardships. He also sought rescheduling of bank loan repayments and waiver of interest and penalties to help the industrial sector.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Palaniswami gave a detailed account of the precautionary and preventive measures already taken by State government to contain the spread of the coronavirus. He said the extension of lockdown will mostly affect the poorest and daily wage workers as they face an immediate loss of livelihood. He pointed out that many businesses, especially MSMEs, would collapse without adequate and timely support. ‘Release foodgrain’ “Foodgrain stocks available with FCI should be released to the States and to Tamil Nadu at BPL rates for the entire allotment to help us to supply essential articles to all ration card holders during this distress period,” he said.
Bank loan repayments to be rescheduled: Palaniswami
Pointing out that a large number of industries and businesses, especially MSMEs would face considerable loss of production and market, the Chief Minister said, as a special measure, bank loan repayments could be rescheduled at least for two quarters, without treating them as NPAs. Interest and penalties could be waived for the two quarters. Working capital loans to all industries and businesses could be enhanced by 50 per cent without seeking any additional collateral from the enterprises.
Underscoring the fact that in this unprecedented situation, the State government's revenue had also taken a hit and expenditure needs had risen considerably, Chief Minister Palaniswami said as a one-time measure, the fiscal deficit limits of three per cent of GSDP could be relaxed for the financial years of 2019-20 and 2020-21. Further, additional borrowing of 33 per cent above the level permitted for fiscal year of 2019-20 could be allowed for 2020-21 to enable the States meet the additional expenditure requirements.