Former Indian National Congress President Sonia Gandhi on April 7 wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggesting five ways through which the government can fight the Coronavirus pandemic. Here are the suggestions made by the Raebareli MP in her letter to the Prime Minister:
- She called for the PM to suspend the Rs 20,000 crore ‘Central Vista’ beautification and construction project, adding this there is no urgent or pressing requirement for the project. She suggested that the sum could instead be allocated to the construction of new hospitals and diagnostics infrastructures such that the frontline workers are provided with Personal Protection Equipments (PPEs) and other facilities.
- She suggested a complete ban on media advertisements on all platforms by government and Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) for a period of two years, adding that exceptions can be for advisories on COVID-19 or issues relating to public health. She went onto assert that the government can allocate the average sum of Rs 1250, which it spends on media advertisements, in alleviating the economic and social impacts of the Coronavirus epidemic.
- Sonia Gandhi proposed for proportionate reduction of 30 percent of government expenditure budget, which can be allocated in establishing an economic safety net for the workers who are most-hit due to the coronavirus lockdown (migrant workers, farmers MSME workers, and workers in the unorganised sector).
- The Congress President advised that putting the foreign visits of the Prime Minister, Union Ministers, state ministers, CMs and other bureaucrats on hold for a certain period of time, suggesting that the funds can be used for combat measures for COVID-19.
- She called for the transfer of funds in ‘PM Cares’ to the PM National Relief Fund (PMNRF), to ensure ‘efficiency, transparency, accountability, and audit of the allocation and expenditure of the funds.
Sonia Gandhi wrote the letter to the PM Modi a day after the Central government announced that the Prime Minister, his cabinet ministers and all MPs will take a 30 percent salary cut for the next year in order to contribute in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The Union Cabinet approved an ordinance during a meeting on April 6 suggesting a reduction in salaries, allowances and pensions of the MPs by 30 percent for one year.
On April 8, the number of COVID-19 positive cases in India rose above 5,100 with over 150 reported deaths due to the disease. As the country fights the disease, PM Modi has been chairing regular meetings with officials and bureaucrats over video conference for regular status updates on the pandemic outbreak in the country.
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