Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram has welcomed the 14-hour janata curfew observed by the people in response to the call given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to break the chain of Covid19 infection and said it should be extended to all towns and cities across the country for the next two to four weeks.
In a statement, he said when he made this suggestion some time ago, “some chose to remain silent and some scoffed at it” .The fact that many Chief Ministers have sealed the borders of their States was a validation of his suggestion and thanked them for it.
The former Finance Minister expressed concern about the fallout of coronavirus on the economy. "The PM implied that the current economic slump was triggered by COVID-19; that is not true. The beginning of the decline of the growth rate of GDP pre-dates COVID-19."
Businesses will be affected. Factories have laid off workers, casual and temporary jobs have been axed, smaller producers have suffered cash flow problems, raw material supply has been affected and credit has dried up.
"All these are the natural consequences of an economy in a rapid decline. I had blamed the government for its failure to formulate policies and take the right measures to arrest the decline. That criticism remains valid. However, the government cannot be faulted for the outbreak of coronavirus. Nonetheless, the government is responsible for managing the economic fallout due to coronavirus. Its first duty is to protect employment and wages."
He suggests that the hand-out under the PM-KISAN scheme be doubled to Rs 12,000. He also says the government should find Rs 5,00,000 crore towards mitigating COVID-19 over the next six months. "This is a moral and economic imperative and we must find the money and spend it".