Sonia Gandhi seeks tax breaks, interest subvention among relief for covid 19-hit country


NEW DELHI, MAR 21: Congress president Sonia Gandhi raised issues over Centre’s response to outbreak of Covid-19 and demanded a relief package for the worst-hit segments including the poor, farmers, small businesses the middle class while presenting a case for a considerable expanding of testing to include people under surveillance and symptomatic cases among other demands on Saturday.
The Congress president said that Covid-19 had caused a huge setback as it comes after demonetisation and slowing down of Indian economy and has hurt millions among the most vulnerable, who needed government aid in the trying times “Government has to put in place broad based social protection measures including direct cash financial help to these sections,” her statement states.She said all businesses, especially the Micro, Small & Medium businesses, were under a huge stress on account of COVID-19 and demanded a sector-wise relief package. “Extraordin ary times call for extraordinary measures. A comprehensive sector-wise relief package needs to be announced forthwith by the Government including necessary tax breaks, interest subvention and deferment of liabilities. For the salaried class, Government and the RBI must consider a deferment of EMIs,” her statement says.
She also asked the government to consider a special relief package for the agriculture sector too.She said she disagreed with the government’s present testing plan and advised that it be ramped up considerably to deal with the challenges presented by a country with 1.3 billion population.“In a nation of 130 crore, only 15,701 samples are reported to have been tested so far. Despite ample time, early warnings and lessons from other nations, we appear to have underutilized our public and private sector capacities. This must change,” the official release said.
She also demanded that information on the location of each hospital and their emergency phone line numbers should be publicly shared to deal with alleged “uncertainty and lack of information” about the number of beds, isolation chambers, ventilators, dedicated medical teams, medical supplies etc.Sonia said the government should grant special financial incentives to medical staff engaged in combating the virus.
“We are proud of our doctors, nurses and supporting staff. At the same time, I strongly feel that the grant of special financial incentives for them in these trying times is equally important. Currently, both these are lacking,” her statement said.She also raised the issue of the non-availability of protective gear and its black marketing and said the government was duty-bound to deal with the artificial shortage and act against hoarders.Sonia’s statement claims that the prices of essential commodities like vegetables, pulses, rice, etc. “seem to be rising unchecked daily”.

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