COVID-19: Cong demands special package for MSMEs, agriculture sector

New Delhi, Mar 22 (PTI) The Congress on Sunday demanded a special package for MSME and agriculture sectors, besides more testing and medical facilities amid a spurt in coronavirus cases.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said special incentives should be given to doctors and paramedics working in this tough situation.

Thanking people to show gratitude to health and other essential service providers with sounds of bells, conches and claps this evening, Surjewala demanded that the government provide health workers personal protection equipment like masks and gloves.

'Through social media, Let us now demand from the government that personal Protection Equipment (PPEs) like N95 masks, Gloves, Face Shields, Goggles, Head Covers, Rubber Boots, Disposable Gowns etc are provided to the health workers so that they can avoid coronavirus infection,' he said in a series of tweets.

'We are proud of our doctors, nurses and supporting staff, special financial incentives should be given to them for risking their lives in their fight against the coronavirus. The government should announce it immediately,' he said.

The Congress spokesperson said the government should arrange adequate number of ventilators for coronavirus patients as presently only 30,000 ventilators are available for the population of 130 crore. 'About 95 per cent of those ventilators are already in use for patients suffering from other diseases,' he said.

'Adequate number of isolation beds should be arranged so that they may be treated and infection does not spread. So far only 1 Isolation bed is available to the 84,000 countrymen, which is quite insufficient,' he noted.

He said samples of all people under surveillance and those coming into contact with coronavirus patients should be tested and a strict action must be taken against black marketeers of masks and sanitisers.

'Lakhs of daily wage labourers, MGNREGA workers, adhoc- temporary workers, farmers and those working in the unorganized sector have lost their employments due to COVID-19. The Government should provide direct cash financial help to them,' he said.

He said the agriculture sector, the biggest employment generator, has suffered a setback due to COVID-19. 'The unseasonal rains and hailstorms across India have further added to their woes. The Government must announce a special relief package for the agriculture sector,' he demanded. Surjewala noted that shopkeepers, businessmen, especially MSMEs have suffered huge losses due to COVID-19.

'The government should provide special relief package in which necessary tax breaks, interest subvention and deferment of liabilities should be provided to them,' he tweeted.

He also pointed out that middle class and the salaried people are facing serious problems due to COVID-19. 'Monthly EMI is the way for most facilities for them. The Government must consider a deferment of EMIs for them,' he demanded. PTI SKC DPB DPB