New Delhi [India], April 7 (ANI): Congress leader Manish Tewari on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and urged him to reconsider the government's decision to suspend MPLAD fund for two years, saying the move was "completely unjustified" and will not help the battle against COVID-19 but "will in fact end up harming" it.
Tewari said the decision appears to be a "knee-jerk reaction" and additional resources to fight the battle against coronavirus can be mobilised if government priorities can be re-ordered and re-targeted.
The Congress MP from Anandpur Sahib said in his letter written on Tuesday that there was the rationale in the proposed 30 per cent reduction in the salaries of MPs but "suspension of the MPLAD Fund is completely unjustified".
"This appears to be an ill-thought-through and knee-jerk reaction to put it very mildly. Much like the lockdown at a bare four hours notice that put millions of poor, vulnerable, needy and marginalised people at grave risk as subsequent events demonstrated," Tewari said.
He said several other key expenditure areas of the government can instead be explored to fund the expenditure on fighting COVID-19.
Tewari said receipts may be lower than anticipated but budgetary deficit limits under the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act can always be relaxed if the need really arises to defray higher expenditure on disease prevention and treatment measures.
He said it was beginning of the new financial year and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharman had assured the Parliament during the budget session that "government finances are in order and that the fundamentals of the economy are strong and robust".
"I am sure the Finance Minister two weeks later does not believe that a situation has manifested itself in just two short weeks that would require a dramatic revision in the government's position. Is the government overreacting or was it concealing something from Parliament and the people of India. Is there a need for such panic?" he asked.
He said the plan to redevelop the Central Vista of Rajpath at an exorbitant cost of Rs 20,000 crores needs to be scrapped and the money be used for fighting COVID-19.
"Another area that warrants a rationalisation is government expenditure on advertisement and the like that forms a part of the DAVP Budget - now called the Bureau of Outreach and Communication in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting," he said.
Tewari said an expenditure rationalisation committee can be set up to identify all such areas of government expenditure that require pruning.
Tewari said MPLAD Fund "is the last thing that should have been touched" and was a nimble instrument of intervention that is available to public representatives to carry out customised micro-level mediations in order to alleviate distress in this time of need.
"It is something that is imperative in order to help the most vulnerable and needy segment of our population. I would request you to reconsider this decision to suspend the MPLAD Funds for two years as it will not help the battle against COVID-19 but will in fact end up harming the battle," he said. (ANI)