Yet another exercise of repackaging earlier announcements: CPI(M) on govt's stimulus package

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New Delhi, Jun 28 (PTI) The CPI(M) on Monday described the measures announced by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to support the pandemic-hit economy as 'yet another exercise of repackaging earlier announcements with no increase in expenditure'.

The party's general secretary Sitaram Yechury said that in order to kickstart the economy, people need to have more money in their hands to spend which would increase domestic demand.

Sitharaman announced Rs 1.5 lakh crore of additional credit for small and medium businesses, more funds for the healthcare sector, loans to tourism agencies and guides, and waiver of visa fee for foreign tourists.

Together with previously announced Rs 93,869 crore spending on providing free foodgrains to the poor till November and additional Rs 14,775 crore fertiliser subsidy, the stimulus package - mostly made up of government guarantee to banks and microfinance institutions for loans they extend to Covid-hit sectors - totalled up to Rs 6.29 lakh crore.

Reacting to the announcements, Yechury tweeted, 'Yet another exercise of repackaging earlier announcements with no increase in expenditures. People need purchasing power to survive and increase demand to revive the economy. This does neither.' 'People need purchasing power to survive and increased demand to revive the economy. This does neither. Free visas are not going to promote an influx of tourists given our low vaccination rates and emerging new mutants. Likewise, loan guarantees for tourism 'stakeholders' and guides is no stimulus.' He further said that the only two new additional outlays are for the previously announced fertiliser subsidy of Rs 14,775 crore and PMGKAY extension of Rs 93,869 crore announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi 'after much delay'.

'Informal sector workers are the worst-affected during pandemic lockdowns after being battered by 2016 demonetisation. Bharat Rozgar Yojna excludes them as it covers only provident fund payments.

'What India needs today is more money in people's hands to spend increasing domestic demand to kickstart the economy. Direct cash transfers and free food kits are the first steps to take PM Modi,' the CPI(M) leader said.

He also said that people need free universal quality health care to battle the pandemic and alleged that the health package announced by the finance minister is a set of guarantees for credit and investments at 7.95 per cent interest rate 'which will hike health costs'.

'MSME's have got another credit guarantee package that too for those who have already borrowed and have a good repayment record! When there's no business who's going to borrow Madam FM?,' he posed.

To provide relief to MSMEs hit by the second COVID-19 wave, Sitharaman raised the limit under the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme by 50 per cent to Rs 4.5 lakh crore to help small businesses get credit at a concessional rate. The existing limit for ECLGS scheme, announced as part of Rs 20-lakh crore Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan package in May 2020, was Rs 3 lakh crore.

The support measures were announced as states start lifting restrictions after new coronavirus infections showed a decline. The economy seems to be on a recovery path after being hit by a devastating second wave of infections that was dubbed as the world's worst COVID-19 surge. PTI ASG NSD NSD

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