Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday suggested five austerity measures to the government, including a complete ban on media advertisements and suspension of Central Vista beautification program. In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sonia Gandhi said that a substantial amount would be available if the central government imposed a complete ban on media advertisements for two years. "The only exceptions should be advisories for COVID-19 or for issues relating to public health," Sonia Gandhi said.
She asked the prime minister to suspend the Rs 20,000 crore 'Central Vista' beautification and construction project. "At a time like this, such an outlay seems self-indulgent to say the least. I am certain that Parliament can function comfortably within the existing historical buildings," she added. She also asked Narendra Modi to order a proportionate reduction of 30 per cent in the expenditure budget (other than salaries, pensions and central sector schemes) for the government as well. "All foreign visits including that of the President, the Prime Minister, Union Ministers, Chief Ministers, State Ministers and Bureaucrats must be put on hold in a similar fashion," Sonia Gandhi also said.
"Transfer all money under 'PM Cares' fund to the 'Prime Ministers National Relief Fund' ('PM-NRF'). This will ensure efficiency, transparency, accountability and audit in the manner in which these funds are allocated and spent," Sonia Gandhi added. In her last letter, Sonia Gandhi had stressed on the need to provide doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers with personal protection equipment, including the N-95 masks and hazmat suits. India is currently under a 21-day lockdown until April 14 to prevent spread of coronavirus.