Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday chaired an all-party meeting via video conference over coronavirus pandemic. Major issues raised during the meeting included relaxation of the fiscal limit of states under the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act from 3 per cent to 5 per cent and making COVID-19 tests free for people.
The prime minister was asked by opposition leaders to release the dues owed to states in the meeting. There was also a demand to increase the stimulus package from 1 per cent to 5 per cent of growth domestic product (GDP). The meeting also discussed the issue of making quality personal protective equipment (PPE) and other protective equipment kits available.
The meeting comes amid criticism by the opposition parties of the government's handling of the crisis.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi suggested a few austerity measures to the government that would help to free up funds to fight against the pandemic. In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sonia Gandhi said that the government should look at the transfer of all money under 'PM Cares' fund to the 'Prime Minister's National Relief Fund' (PM-NRF). This will ensure efficiency, transparency, accountability, and audit in the manner in which these funds are allocated and spent, she added.
The number of positive COVID-19 cases in India currently stands just over 5,000.