Punjab eyes Montek Ahluwalia’s help to revive economy after COVID-19

a bid to frame a viable post-COVID-19 economic revival policy, Punjab plans to get noted economist and former deputy chairman of planning commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia on board to frame a road map. Foreseeing a major economic slump after the pandemic period, the Punjab government has approved establishment of a high-powered committee to work out an exit policy to gradually pull the state out of curfew/lockdown and revive the falling economy.

Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh issued a statement, saying he would request Ahluwalia to head the committee. However, when contacted by THE WEEK, Ahluwalia said he had no intimation about such a proposal from the Punjab government so far.

The state shall also set up a task force comprising 15 members from the fields of trade, business, industry, agriculture, civil society and health care, who will within 10 days submit a report on revival of their respective arenas.

State Finance Minister Manpreet Badal said that to financially strengthen the state’s war against COVID-19, Rs 30,000 crore of revenue earned through the upcoming crop procurement operations would be ploughed into the state economy.

Meanwhile, taking cognisance of pressure on MSMEs for release of salaries to workers despite no income during lockdown, Amarinder shot a letter to Union Minister of State for Labour and Employment (independent charge) Santosh Gangwar, seeking permission for utilisation of Central funds like ESIC and MNREGA to provide part of the wages or lump sum financial assistance to industrial workers during the period of lockdown.

“MHA has mandated all shops, all units to pay wages to their workers on the due date without deduction. However, the industrial sector in Punjab is largely MSMEs and they won’t be able to implement owing to resource crunch. Any such mandate would only compound the problem and may even lead to lockdown/closure of many industrial units, which indeed is not the spirit behind these directions. We assure full cooperation in terms of any database of workers required to work the request out,” Amarinder Singh said in the letter.

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