The Congress on Monday asked the Union government to pay 70% of the wage bill of the micro, small and medium (MSME) enterprises for the next three months and make it mandatory for the employers not to retrench their employees for the next six months.
Party president Sonia Gandhi also formed a central control room at the headquarters to monitor the ground situation with regard to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Party general secretary K.C. Venugopal also announced that the Congress Working Committee (CWC) would meet on Thursday through video conferencing.
In a series of tweets, former Finance Minister P. Chidamabaram demanded a bold new Financial Assistance Package immediately.
Addressing an online press conference, Congress spokesperson Prof. Gourav Vallabh said there are 4.25 crore MSMEs that contribute around 29% to the GDP and employ about 45 crore people.
“One month of the wage bill is around ₹50,000 cr. and for three months, it will be around ₹1.50 lakh crore. So,70% of the same works out to approximately ₹1 lakh crore,” said Prof. Vallabh.
The Congress spokesperson also suggested that truck drivers should be given advance payment through direct benefit transfer to ensure that the supply of essentials were not affected. There are approximately 30 lakh truck drivers and the burden will be around ₹25,000 crore.”
Talking about the exodus of workers leaving cities fearing job losses, he said, “The Central government should come out with a law that there shall be no retrenchment in any sector or company whatsoever for the next 6 months. And this shall be applicable to every company/enterprise.”
“It is now conclusively established that the lockdown was declared and enforced in 4 hours without any preparation whatsoever. Tragic,” said Mr. Chidamabaram. “A confidence boosting financial assistance plan should have been announced either before or simultaneously with the announcement of lockdown.”
“The FM’s FAP was so miserly and inadequate, it actually promoted many to go back to their villages. I urge the government to announce a bold FAP II today or tomorrow,” he said.
The party’s control room under Mr. Venugopal will have three members — newly elected Rajya Sabha member Rajiv Satav, former MLA Devendra Yadav and Party secretary Manish Chatrath.
“The Pradesh Congress Committees will update the Central Control Room on a daily basis with regard to the spread of the virus, the medical preparedness of the respective governments as also the relief work being undertaken by the party and state agencies,” said a party statement.