GUWAHATI, May 10 - Former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has called for more Central assistance to Assam and the northeastern states to tide over the economic crisis brought about in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
�Substantial amounts of funds should be given to North East states, especially to Assam, under the PM CARES Fund,� said the senior Congress leader.
He said the austerity measures adopted by the government should be spelt out properly. �The Government of Assam should conduct a detailed survey to make an assessment of loss incurred during the total lockdown by different sectors in order to provide adequate financial support. The economic advisory committee, formed under the chairmanship of retired IAS officer Subhash Das, should plan long-term and short-term measures and schemes to cope up with the declining economic situation and also for a future course of action. The committee should submit its report to the government within a month. The recent hike in VAT on petrol and diesel should be withdrawn immediately as it affects all sections of society. Immediate steps should be taken to support and save the small industries and traditional crafts,� said Gogoi.
He said the decision to impose the nationwide lockdown was necessary, but added that it was carried out without proper planning.
�As a result, lakhs of poor people, including daily wage earners, rickshaw-pullers, handcart pullers, traders, small businessmen, farmers, weavers, milk producers and fishermen, among others, have been adversely affected,� said Gogoi.
He added that five-six lakh workers from Assam are being stranded in different parts of the country and they have lost their jobs and livelihood.
�It is most unfortunate that we have not seen any concrete steps taken by the government for providing financial assistance to help the affected poor people. Even those who are stranded in different parts of the country were initially asked to bear their own expenses to travel by train to their respective states. Only after Sonia Gandhi raised the issue and instructed Congress units of various states to bear the expense of the railway fares did the Government of India decide to bear 85 per cent of the cost and leaving remaining 15 per cent to the respective state government. The whole expense should have been borne by the Centre,� said Gogoi.
He said the condition of the Indian economy was deteriorating even before the onset of the pandemic and added that COVID-19 has only made the situation worse.
�Every poor jobless person should be given at least Rs 7,600 and 10 kg of rice. MGNREGA schemes are not being implemented properly. There are a total of 27 crore MGNREGA job cardholders in India, out of which 12 crore job holders are active. However, only 93 lakh job cardholders have been provided jobs, while the rest of the cardholders are yet to be given jobs under this scheme. I urge the government to give jobs to all MGNREGA active cardholders. Importance must be given to MGNREGA scheme. Even town areas also should be covered under this scheme at this stage,� said the three-time Chief Minister.
Gogoi alleged that some elements across India are trying to spread divisiveness in the name of the pandemic.