Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his intervention for immediate release of the state's GST arrears and resolution of other pending issues to enable effective management of the crisis caused by COVID-19.
A similar letter was al to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, with the chief minister stressing that "early action on these issues will help in effective management of COVID-19 as also to provide requisite relief to all those who are adversely affected by the crisis". "The release of our GST arrears is of paramount importance as we are facing serious financial constraints," he wrote in the letter, drawing the Centre's urgent attention to the pending issues and seeking necessary follow-up action from the prime minister and the home minister.
"The COVID-19 crisis presents a challenge of great magnitude, which has ramifications across all strata of people and all sectors of the economy, though the poor will be the worst affected," Singh said. The chief minister pointed out that the challenges were naturally more operational in the states, which needed to contain and prevent the spread of the disease at one level and to work to mitigate the economic hardship and suffering caused by the outbreak of the disease on the other, a government release said here.
Singh said his dispensation has been working closely with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and the Union cabinet secretary has been in regular contact with the chief secretary and senior officials of the state government to review day-to-day issues and measures being taken to manage and contain the deadly disease. "You would appreciate that huge resources are required to fight this disease, especially as the lockdown, in one form or another, may well turn out to be longer than is currently being anticipated," the chief minister said, adding that he has spoken to the Union finance minister as well as written to her articulating Punjab's requirements and giving certain suggestions at the national level.
In a detailed list of issues pending with the Centre for urgent attention, sent along with the letter, Singh said the state government's GST arrears amounted to Rs 6,752.83 crore. He urged immediate action by the Union Finance Ministry for the release of the arrears, besides seeking increase in borrowing limit under the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act (FRBM) from three to four per cent, deferment of industrial loans by commercial banks, and deferment of agricultural/ crop loans by commercial banks and waiver of three months interest thereon.