Kerala Congress gives food for thought to govt on Covid-19

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Thiruvananthapuram, April 7 (IANS) While committing full support to the Pinarayi Vijayan-led government in the fight against Covid-19, Kerala Congress leaders on Tuesday pointed areas where the government can ramp up activities and asked that there should be no forceful collection of one month salary from the state government employees.

Among those who took to address the media include former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, State Congress chief Mullapally Ramachandran and Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala.
Chandy pointed out that when he was in office from 2011 to 2016, his government had formulated plans for setting up a medical college in every district.
“Till then we had only 5 medical colleges, so I worked out plans to add another 11 and we were very particular of one at Kasargode. The buildings for the Medical College was ready and fund was there to build the hospital. But the Vijayan government failed to act. At Trivandrum, we had opened a second one, but this government closed it down. They should have taken a more proactive approach and had they gone forward, things would have been hugely different,” said Chandy.
Chennithala said Vijayan cannot say that he has no funds to fight Covid-19 as the Centre has given a total of Rs 1896 crore.
“Rs 1277 crore came by way of covering up of revenue deficit, for Covid-19, it is Rs 157 crore and the next instalment for previous flood relief is Rs 462 crore. So he should not say he has no money. We are now given to understand that the Centre will soon increase the borrowing powers of the state government from 3 to 5 per cent,” said Chennithala.
“What Vijayan should do immediately is to see that he cuts down on his extravagance and unnecessary expenditure and should terminate the services of his several advisors, the four cabinet posts and disband the administrative reforms commission, which by now has spent Rs 7 crore,” added Chennithala.
Ramachandran pointed out that the ration distribution scheme that has been announced is just misleading and during the regime of Chandy, more was given than this.
“The so called Rs 20,000 crore Covid package announced by Vijayan is a bluff as Rs 14,000 crore is outstanding to be given to government contractors and Rs 2000 crore loans that Kudumbhashree women is nothing but a loan linked to commercial banks. The announcement of giving two months social pension is a bluff as already there are six months pension that are in arrears,” said Ramachandran and asked Vijayan to explain the spending of all the funds collected when floods struck the state in 2018 and 19, which is around Rs 9700 crore and all what has been spent is Rs 2455 crore.
“It was a shame to see that at times when every money should go to developmental activities, a sum of Rs 1.45 crore was paid for a helicopter to be used by Vijayan,” said Ramachandran.
The top Congress leaders pointed out that all state government employees are stressed and it would be best if they are given the chance to contribute as per their will.
They pointed out that the Congress party is running around 108 community kitchens that have by now served over a lakh people, three meals a day besides supplied over 2 lakh grocery kits.
They are waiting the report form an expert committee which will give their advice on what should be done in the future including if the present lockdown should be extended.
“We are expecting it any time now and once we get it, we will send it to the Prime Minister. The Kerala government never asked us for suggestions on this,” added Chennithala.