Punjab CM pitches for lockdown extension with 'carefully crafted strategy'

Chandigarh [India], May 11 (ANI): Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday pitched for extension of the lockdown with a "carefully crafted strategy", which is to be backed by fiscal and economic empowerment of the states to save lives and secure livelihood.

"Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has pitched for extension of lockdown, but with a carefully crafted strategy, backed by fiscal and economic empowerment of states, to save lives and secure livelihood," said the Punjab government in a statement.

During a video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Singh said that states needed to be given greater flexibility in micro-planning as part of a carefully planned exit strategy, encompassing both COVID containment and a defined path of economic revival.

He demanded urgent financial assistance to states to meet at least 33 per cent of their committed liabilities, along with revenue grants to the states for 3 months to meet the shortfall in revenue and to fund expenditure on COVID-19.

The Punjab Chief Minister also called for a "national strategy" on COVID testing.

Pointing out that Punjab had procured 115 lakh MT of Wheat, with proper social distancing and hygiene protocols in place, the Chief Minister also requested for early declaration of MSP on paddy and a bonus on non-burning of paddy stubble.

He also reiterated his demand for the immediate release of Punjab's GST arrears of Rs 4,365.37 crore.

He said that the 15th Finance Commission should review its report for the current year and recommend devolution of funds for five years beginning from April 1, 2021 (instead of 2020) onwards after factoring in the impact of COVID-19.

The Chief Minister also urged the Prime Minister to increase the borrowing limit under the Financial Responsibility and Budget Management Act 2005 (FRBM Act) from 3 per cent to 4 per cent of SGDP to enable states to meet their fiscal liabilities. (ANI)