Satheesan calls for a COVID 19 relief commission

Leader of the Opposition V. D. Satheesan called on the state government to set up what he called a COVID 19 Relief Commission to look into all aspects of revival of economic and social life in the wake of the devastation caused by the pandemic. He said the Commission should comprise experts from different walks of life and activities, who would suggest ways to overcome the great problems posed by the pandemic. Mr. Satheesan was speaking here on Saturday at a Meet the Press programme organised by Ernakulam Press Club on Life After COVID 19.

He said that there was serious economic deceleration and the government needed to increase the spending capacity of the people. One of the options would be, “he said, to transfer funds directly to ordinary people. A corpus of about Rs. 10,000 crore being transferred to the people who are hard pressed by the pandemic will result in circulation of money and also bring about Rs. 1,800 crore to the State exchequer in the form taxes.”

He pointed out that direct benefit transfer programmes like the national employment scheme had benefited lakhs of workers in the country. He also alleged that the rehabilitation packages announced by the state government so far were not substantial and were meant to hoodwink people.

The Opposition leader also said that combining opening up of the markets with stringent rules on COVID 19 certificates would not work. He claimed that 57% of the population in Kerala had not even received the first dose of the COVID 19 vaccine and insisting on the certifications for people to go shopping was not productive. “The government must open up shopping hours so that there is no crowding in public spaces. Countries have explored options like exploring night shopping to control the gathering of people,” he added. He said COVID 19 spread should be treated as a health problem and not as a political problem.

Mr. Satheesan, commenting on the troubles confronting the Inidan Union Muslim League, said “the League’s problems were internal and the UDF or the Congress party did not want to interfere in the matter. The issues will be settled as the party is a disciplined one. It was not up to any other political party to comment on these developments.”

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