New Delhi [India], April 7 (ANI): Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday gave five suggestions to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to fight against COVID-19, including ban on government ads, suspension of Rs 20,000 crore Central Vista beautification project and official foreign tours of President and ministers.
In the letter to the Prime Minister, Gandhi extended the party's support to the Union Cabinet's decision of 30 per cent pay cut from salaries of Members of Parliament to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
"Austerity measures which can be used to divert much needed funds to the fight against COVID-19 are the need of the hour," she wrote.
The five 'concrete suggestions' by Gandhi include:
1. Imposition of a blanket ban on media advertisements - television, print and online - by the government and PSUs for a period of two years. "The only exceptions should be advisories for COVID-19 or for issues related to public health. This will free up a substantial amount to alleviate the economic and social impact to covid-19."
2. Suspension of Rs 20,000 crore Central Vista beautification and construction project 'forthwith'. "At a time like this, such an outlay seems self-indulgent to say the least. I am certain that the Parliament can function comfortably within the existing historical buildings," she said. The Congress leader also stressed that this sum could instead be allocated towards constructing new hospitals infrastructure and diagonistics along with equipping frontline workers with personal protection equipment and better facilities.
3. Order proportionate reduction of 30 per cent in expenditure budget, other than salaries, pensions and central sector schemes. "This 30 per cent (i.e Rs 2.5 lakh crore per year approximately) can then be allocated towards establishing an economic safety net for migrant workers, labourers, MSMEs and those in the unorganised sector."
4. All foreign visits of president, prime minister, Union ministers, chief ministers, state ministers and bureaucrats must be put on hold. However, exceptions can be made in case of special emergency or exigencies in national interest to be cleared by the Prime Minister.
5. Transfer all money under 'PM Cares' fund to 'Prime Ministers National Relief Fund' for efficiency, transparency, accountability as this will ensure efficiency, transparency, accountability and audit in the manner in which these funds are allocated and spent.
Gandhi's response come a day after Prime Minister Modi reached out to top leaders from across the political spectrum, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, to discuss the situation arising out of the spread of coronavirus.
The total number of coronavirus cases in India reached 4,421, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Tuesday.
Out of the 4,421 cases, 3,981 are active cases while 325 have been cured or discharged and one has migrated. The total death toll stands at 114. (ANI)