New Delhi: Punjab is staring at a “minimum loss” of Rs50,000 crore this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown, and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has hinted at some “tough decisions” on taxation for revenue generation.
In an interview to PTI, Singh said initial estimates suggest job losses in the range of 10 lakh in the state, which was losing Rs3,000 crore a month on the economic front. The CM said with some experts predicting a peak in coronavirus pandemic in July and August, Punjab was preparing itself “for the worst”, with the massive influx of migrants and Indian returnees from abroad emerging as the top disease management challenge.
“In April alone, we lost 88% of our estimated revenue due to the lockdown. As per quick estimates, we are losing Rs3,000 crore a month, and are looking at Rs50,000 crore minimum in losses for the full year,” the CM said.
"I don’t know why they have not announced a relief package or revenue grant for states so far. We need funds to manage not just our routine expenses but the huge challenge of COVID from medical and humanitarian point of view. We need money immediately but it has not been forthcoming so far," Captain said.
Noting the financial situation is “extremely critical”, Singh said he has already asked all the ‘non-essential’ departments to cut down on expenses and manage their costs judiciously.
“But, that is obviously not enough, so we will have to take some tough decisions,” he said referring to fresh taxation measures. He said discussions are on and Punjab is weighing options and will take a call in a couple of days.
Singh called for an urgent economic package for states, saying with no GST, excise duty or VAT coming from transportation, all resources have dried up. A day after Punjab extended the lockdown till May 31, he said the state was preparing for the worst with experts predicting a peak in Jul/Aug, even stretching to Sept. The “biggest challenge right now is the large influx of people from other states and outside India”.