West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday slammed the central government’s COVID-19 economic package, calling it “a big zero” with nothing of help to states. Ms Banerjee alleged that the central government was “misleading the people” during the coronavirus crisis and was planning to “financially lockout” states.
State Finance Minister Amit Mitra too accused the centre of misleading people, saying that the actual stimulus is about 2 per cent of the country’s GDP instead of the 10 per cent as it was being advertised.
“The special economic package announced by the Union government is nothing but a big zero. It is a eyewash to fool the people. There is nothing for the unorganised sector, public spending and employment generation,” Ms Banerjee said, addressing a news conference.
“Yesterday, when the PM announced the Rs 20 lakh crore package, we were hopeful that the interest of states will be looked into, the FRBM (Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management) limit would be increased. But today, after the Union Finance Minister made the announcements, it was found that everything that was said yesterday was a bluff,” Ms Banerjee said.
The Trinamool Congress chief also asked why farmers’ loans had not been waived and claimed that the centre was “misleading and lying” to the people about the package.
People had hoped from the Prime Minister’s speech on Tuesday that states will get some aid to boost MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises), employment, unorganised sector, public spending, additional grants and health infrastructure, Ms Banerjee said.
However, the centre has given nothing to states, she said. “We have not been given a penny. There is no earning and only burning,” Ms Banerjee said.
The chief minister alleged that the centre usually allots Rs 14 lakh crore for MSMEs but now they have reduced it to Rs 3 lakh crore under the guise of a special economic package.
“Why did not it work towards self-reliance for the last six years? What were they doing for so long,” she said while responding to PM Modi’s call for an “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” (self-reliant India).
Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra said the previous interventions by the Reserve Bank of India and the Union Finance Ministry amounting to Rs 10 lakh crore are included in the Rs 20 lakh crore package, and billed as a “blockbuster stimulus”.
“People must know the truth and the centre’s actual new announcement is just Rs 4.2 lakh crore or 2 per cent of GDP,” Mr Mitra said after Nirmala Sitharaman shared some details of the plan on Wednesday.
(With inputs from PTI)