Centre's Financial Package Lacks Public Healthcare Initiatives: Kerala

The Chief Minister said strengthening Public Sector Units is the Kerala government’s policy. (File)


Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan today said that the five-phased financial package announcements by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had nothing for the public healthcare sector.

During this coronavirus crisis, a substantial public healthcare package was required, he said.

“Many international agencies have pointed out that the package will cost an additional Rs 1.5 lakh crore from the central budget this year. Even if we add free ration and direct cash transfer to ordinary people, it would not have been five per cent of the total package,” he said.

The bulk of the Rs 20 lakh crore was the amount made available to banks as part of the RBI’s monetary policy and the amount that these banks are expected to pay to farmers and small businesses, he said.

The reality is that banks are wary of giving loans during the present financial uncertainty,he said and charged that the centre had opened up most sectors for private investment while the public sector will be limited to some strategic areas.

However, strengthening Public Sector Units is the Kerala government’s policy, he said.

The state government had earlier announced a package for the Micro-Small and Medium-Sized (MSME) sector and this will be implemented in conjunction with central announcements, the chief minister said. The government will take immediate steps to make maximum use of the credit facilities announced by the central government for MSMEs, he added.

Kerala will take full advantage of the Rs 40,000 crore increase in the budget allocation for the Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Scheme, he said.

Steps have also been initiated to utilise the additional refinance fund available to Kerala Bank and the Kerala Grameen Bank through NABARD with the Department of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Local Self Government and Self Help Groups, Mr Vijayan said.

While welcoming the increase in borrowing limit of states from three to five per cent of the GDP, he said the pre-conditions laid down by the centre, however, were not acceptable in the federal set up.

“Kerala has been in the forefront in demanding a hike in the borrowing limit of the states and we welcome this decision. But we are not happy with the conditions set for the use of the increased limits”, he said.

The states’ domestic revenues have fallen drastically during the lockdown amid coronavirus pandemic. So even if the borrowing limit was increased, it will be of limited benefit. Such preconditions are not acceptable in a federal set up, the chief minister said.

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