'CMs pitch for lockdown extension; financial package'

CMs pitch for extension of coronavirus lockdown; financial package to PM Narendra Modi, says Puducherry CM V Narayanasamy

Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy

A majority of chief ministers on Monday favoured continuation of the nationwide lockdown as number of coronavirus patients continued to increase every passing day, Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy said.

Briefing reporters on the deliberations of Prime Minister Narendra Modi had with chief ministers, Narayanasamy said the general mood of the meeting was that the lockdown should continue with partial relaxations.

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The chief ministers also demanded a financial package to bail out states, particularly small states, that were finding it difficult to meet daily expenses due to absence of revenue generation since the nationwide lockdown was announced on March 24.

Narayanasamy said chief ministers of nine states, including Meghalaya, Odisha, Bihar, Puducherry, Haryana, Gujarat, spoke during the meeting called by the Prime Minister, the fourth such deliberations since the lockdown.

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“Majority of the chief ministers said lockdown should continue, some said with more economic activity it can be there, as far as I am concerned I said the decision should rest with Government of India,” he said.

Narayanasamy said he raised the issue of bringing back Indian nationals stranded in foreign land, including workers in the Persian Gulf, and those stuck in different states. He said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar spoke in detail about the plight of migrant workers and sought a national policy to enable their return to their home states.

The Congress leader said the Prime Minister remained silent on chief minister’s demand for a financial package and only lauded the efforts taken by state governments in the fight against Covid-19.

Narayanasamy said the economic activity should be started gradually and the Ways and Means Advances made by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) should be made interest-free for a year.

He also sought immediate disbursal of GST compensation to state governments to and a special package of Rs one lakh crore for states handed out as per the formula for paying GST compensation.