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Give liberal package to fill revenue deficit caused by pandemic: Amarinder

Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh. File

Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh. File   | Photo Credit: AKHILESH KUMAR

With a surge in COVID-19 cases and 50% revenue decline in the first quarter of this fiscal in Punjab, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday sought from Prime Minister Narendra Modi a liberal financial package for States to fill the deficit caused by the pandemic, and also flexibility on pandemic-related terms of expenditure in the State Disaster Relief Fund.

During a video conference the Prime Minister had with some Chief Ministers, Captain Amarinder said the current cap of 35% in the SDRF for the pandemic-related expenditure, as per the MHA guidelines, is not sufficient to meet the current requirements.

Promotion on past performance

Citing the State’s rising cases — 24,891 with 604 deaths — the Chief Minister urged the Prime Minister to review the UGC decision on mandatory exams for exit classes to be held by September 30. Punjab may not be in a position to conduct exams in September as it may be facing its peak at that time, he said, suggesting promotion on past performance and internal assessment, with an option to take exams later for those who want to improve their performance. He also sought the Central government assistance for online school education, especially for poor children of Classes X and XII. More money was needed for creating the infrastructure needed to support it, he said.

Though Punjab was conducting 23,000 tests per million (higher than the national average) and planned to increase the RT-PCR tests from 12,000 to 20,000 in the next 15 days, it needed to scale up the testing capacity, the Chief Minister said. He requested the Prime Minister to direct the Central institutions in Chandigarh and Punjab to increase testing capacity.

Concern over mortality rate

Expressing concern over the State’s mortality rate of 2.4%, Captain Amarinder said though it was lower than the all India deaths per million and 91% of the fatality cases were with co-morbidity, it was still higher than Haryana. Patients were coming to hospitals late and 86% deaths were occurring in tertiary hospitals, he said.

Captain Amarinder said cases had gone up from 500 to 1,000 in two weeks, with the positivity rate of the last five days at 8.73%. The majority of cases were coming from Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Patiala cities, though cases were increasing in all districts. The number of micro-containment zones were being increased in high-incidence districts.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2020 9:22:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/give-liberal-package-to-fill-revenue-deficit-caused-by-pandemic-amarinder/article32326599.ece

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