Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow the states to borrow more by raising the FRBM (Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management) limits in the wake of additional funds that are required to combat the Coronavirus pandemic.

“I have written to the Prime Minister requesting him to raise the FRBM limit from three to five per cent as we have received no other financial assistance. Some states have increased the cess on diesel and petrol but we haven’t done it as people will be affected. We have very less funds. We have to create infrastructure for tackling the disease as there is nothing. We have not got any assistance from the Centre. In such a situation we need funds,” said Miss Banerjee at a Press Conference in Nabanna.

Miss Banerjee said that in the last one month, the condition of the market was bad and it is unknown as to what will happen in the next one month. We don’t know when Coronavirus would be controlled, she said. She said that she has also written to PM Modi about the all party meeting that was held yesterday. All parties had decided to approach the Centre for preparing package for the states to tide the present crisis.

“I write to you in the backdrop of this unprecedented global pandemic which is already crippling the economy from the bottom to the top, in the midst of a slowing economy, which was suffering from a growth-recession,” wrote Miss Banerjee in a letter to Mr Modi today. Miss Banerjee wrote that the lockdowns and closure of businesses in many states, including West Bengal, have “severely crippled” the capacity of the states “to mobilise resources”.

The GST collection, which consists 70 per cent of the state’s tax collection, will plummet, said Miss Banerjee adding that with further dip in tax collection of the Central government, the amount of devolution to the states will also plummet. Under such “inevitable and near catastrophic fiscal parameters”, Miss Banerjee urged Mr Modi to “allow states to borrow more by raising the FRBM limits of the states to at least five per cent of their GDP” during 2020-21.

The states will then amend their FRBM commitments in their own legislatures as they find appropriate, the letter read. FRBM establishes financial discipline to reduce fiscal deficit. Miss Banerjee today announced a scheme named “Prochesta” for providing financial assistance amounting to Rs 1,000 to the workers of unorganised sector and daily wage earners. People who are in dire need of financial assistance can apply within 15 April to 30 April to avail this aid.

Surprise visits to city hospitals:

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee paid surprise visits to various city hospitals today to check the preparedness against the COVID-19 pandemic. The chief minister’s surprise visits started from Calcutta Medical College and Hospital this afternoon.

The CM talked to the officials and other doctors of the hospitals while taking note of the problems and their solutions. She also distributed masks and sanitizers to the officials of the hospitals. She also took details of the infrastructure at the hospitals.

Miss Banerjee, accompanied by the commissioner of Kolkata Police, Anuj Sharma, while checking the availability of the sanitizers, masks and kits, urged the people not to get panicked but be careful. The chief minister also took a note of how the infrastructure and the facilities in those hospitals could be improved to handle the grave situation in a better manner.

The Trinamul supremo also urged the people working in the healthcare industry to take care of themselves and their families as they are handling critical patients. During her visit to the R.G Kar Hospital, the state supremo asked the hospital authorities to make proper accommodation arrangements for the doctors presently providing essential services.

She also visited other hospitals including NRS Medical College and Hospital, SSKM Hospital, Beleghata ID Hospital and Chittaranjan Hospital at Rajarhat Quarantine Centre where several people are being kept in quarantine. She talked at length with the doctors of the hospital while urging them to be extra careful.