Chennai

State to ensure supply of essentials, seeks ₹4,000 cr. from Centre

While measures have been taken, we must prepare for a higher case load in the coming weeks: CM

Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami on Wednesday assured people that the government had made arrangements to ensure the supply of essential commodities such as vegetables, milk, meat, medicine and other provisions.

During his televised address to the people of the Stat, he said that they need not panic, as arrangements had been made to ensure smooth supply of essentials. He reiterated that people should exercise physical distancing, even while going out for essential supplies.

The 21-day lockdown across the country by the Centre was “not a vacation”, but a government order for safety of each family, he said. Since district borders were closed, he requested people against going out of station.

“Those who have arrived from foreign countries should voluntarily come forward to exercise self-quarantine. If they fail to do so, family members, relatives, neighbours can alert local bodies, the Health Department or the police,” he said. Reiterating the importance of washing hands, the Chief Minister said that handkerchiefs should be used while coughing or sneezing and strongly advised against crowding.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Palaniswami wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to provide a special assistance of ₹4,000 crore to the State for taking precautionary measures and financial relief measures over the loss being caused by COVID-19.

While funds to the tune of ₹3,000 crore were needed for strengthening the health infrastructure and for essential equipment and medicines, ₹500 crore was needed to pay 50% wages for the wage employment lost in March, and expected to be lost in April and May. Another ₹500 crore was needed for providing a relief package for workers of the unorganised sector in the State.

In this unprecedented situation, the government’s revenues had also taken a hit and the expenditure needs had risen considerably, he said, requesting that the fiscal deficit limits of 3% of GSDP be relaxed for the financial years 2019-20 and 2020-21. The lockdown for 21 days would add to the huge strain that the economy of the State had already been put under, he noted.

Further, an additional borrowing of 33% above the level permitted for the fiscal year 2019-20 may be allowed for 2020-21, to enable States to meet the additional expenditure requirements, the Chief Minister said.

Since a large number of industries and businesses, especially MSMEs, faced considerable loss of production, and cash flow was heavily constrained, making it very difficult for them to meet their tax and bank loan interest payments, Mr. Palaniswami sought the rescheduling of bank loan repayments, at least for two quarters, without treating them as NPAs.

Many businesses, especially MSMEs, were facing a difficult situation, and “would face collapse without adequate and timely support”, he pointed out, and said: “We eagerly await the announcement of the economic and financial relief package,” he said.

Pointing out that the supply of PDS commodities was to be ensured, he requested that stocks of foodgrains available with the FCI be released to the States and Tamil Nadu, at BPL rates.

“Tamil Nadu is vulnerable to the virus, because a large number of international passengers transit through the four international airports and the four major ports in the State. Tamil Nadu also adjoins States where the outbreak has initially been more severe. Hence, while immediate measures have been taken, we will need to prepare for a significantly higher case load in the coming weeks and months,” he said.

Listing out the efforts being taken by Tamil Nadu in the fight against COVID-19, he said that 10,000 beds had been earmarked in government and private hospitals, as isolation wards, across the State. “We have scaled up procurement of requisite medical equipment, including ventilators, hospital beds and PPE, drugs and medicines and deployment of health human resources,” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 3:33:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/state-to-ensure-supply-of-essentials-seeks-4000-cr-from-centre/article31167799.ece

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