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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 17 New Delhi, April 11, 2020

Declare special budget for COVID-19 - AIFB Writes To Prime Minister

Saturday 11 April 2020


7th April 2020, New Delhi

Debabrata Biswas Ex.MP and the General Secretary of the All India Forward Bloc today wrote a letter to the Prime Minister suggesting to declare a special budget to combat the spread of COVID-19. Along with this the letter explains 17 suggestions which demands immediate attention of the PMO. The full text of the letter is as follows:

Shri Narendra Modi,
Hon’ble Prime Minister of India,
South Block,
New Delhi.

Dated 7th April 2020

Dear Shri Modi ji,

I am writing this letter to inform you that the All India Forward Bloc, the party founded by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is cooperating with the Central Government and the state governments in their efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. As per the official reports the spread of deadly Corona virus has entered into the midst of second and third stage in our country and it is the most vulnerable time. It is a fact that along with the governments, all political parties both ruling and opposition and the civil society organizations are actively engaged in maintaining the 21-days lockdown announced by you. Our party salutes the health care workers across the country on their commendable service to contain the virulent disease within all limitations.

As you are aware that the working people particularly the daily workers and the workers in informal sectors are the worst victims of the restrictions imposed by the state and central governments with regard to contain the spread of Corona virus. A panic has started to set in as a vast workforce stares at a bleak and uncertain future. The source of revenue of the people engaged in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), fisheries and small business are severely affected throughout the country. With the closure of Malls and Super Markets, Hotels and Restaurants, Mandis and Bazars, small shops and FMCG stores, garments and leather shops, thousands of small entrepreneurs are facing a complete black out of revenue. Supply chain businesses such as big hotels, airlines, logistics, tourism and transport have seen business drop up to 90% and the workers engaged in these sectors are also facing serious problem of income loss.

The government of India has already taken some steps to address the grievances of the informal sector workers and other victims of the lockdown. But it seems that the steps taken by the governments are not sufficient to deal with the issues confronting the poor and marginalized people across the country. Therefore, we earnestly urge upon you that:-

1. The government should announce a Special Budget (COVID-19 Budget) to enhance the facilities for public health and to ensure the livelihood of the people immediately.

2. Establish more special care wards in all District Hospitals and Medical Colleges with all modern and multi-specialty facilities including ventilators.

3. Provide sufficient PPE kits to the health care workers immediately.

4. Issue orders to the Ordnance Cloth factories to make PPE kits and other cloth and tent materials for equipping our health care workers and to make more isolation wards and hospitals.

5. Open more laboratories for testing and virology examine centres under the supervision of expert people.

6. Set up more centres for PCR tests.

7. Involve all the science and technology research scholars, institutions, university departments and PSUs in these fields in the awareness and preventive campaign on COVID-19. Decentralized monitoring and information centres must be opened throughout the country.

8. Declare special financial incentives and departmental grades to the health care workers across the country as a reward to their exemplary service to the nation.

9. Bring the health care workers of private sector also into the ambit of the special insurance scheme announced by the Union Government as a special package.

10. Declare a complete moratorium of all the loans taken by the MSME, retailers and self-employed, housing, education and personal for a period of six months.

11. Prepare a comprehensive Public Health Policy in view of sporadic outbreak of epidemics.

12. Special control room must be open under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to monitor the procurement, distribution and storage of PPE kits, testing materials and other paraphernalia for COVID-19 treatment across the country.

13. Direct our embassies abroad to extend all sorts of assistance to the NRIs residing and working in different countries. Ensure that no NRI will loose their livelihood.

14. Take adequate initiatives to ensure the safety of Indian students studying abroad.

15. Withdraw the decision of freezing the MPLADS as it will slowdown the Local Area developments, SC/ST Development projects, procurement of COVID-19 Testing kits and establishing special care wards in hospitals etc. Instead of freezing, the MPs should ask to allot more funds for COVID-19 prevention and Treatment purpose. The government should prepare guidelines for spending MPLADS Fund for this purpose in consultation with the relevant Parliamentary Committees.

16. Increase the budgetary allocation of health care facilities particularly more GDP share for public health schemes and projects. At least 6% of GDP should be spent for health. At present it is less than 2%.

17. Take more initiatives to develop scientific temper among the people as per the Article 51 A (h) of the Constitution of India.

Hope that you and your good office will look into the above cited suggestions and will take necessary steps to formulate policies accordingly.

A line of acknowledgment is highly appreciable.

With best regards,

Sincerely yours,

General Secretary

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