Congress task force on COVID-19 led by former CM Prithviraj Chavan on Thursday submitted its first report to party President Balasaheb Thorat urged the state government that Maharashtra should lead the way by providing unemployment allowance and appealed the Centre to waive off GST on PPE kits. The task force also demanded to regularise the price on essential tools used for the fight the pandemic.
The task force recommends that Maharashtra should provide unemployment allowance to all the unorganized sector workers. “We ask the state government to pay allowance for the next three months at the rate of Rs. 5000 per month. This should include all the farm labourers, hawkers, small rural shopkeepers, and other informal workers,” said Prithviraj Chavan.
Chavan also said the GST on Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) kits should be waived off completely. At present, there is 12 to 18 per cent on PPE.
A policy for supply of PPE and N95 masks to private doctors and hospitals should also be outlined, he said. He further added that the government must specify a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the inclusion of private medical professionals in the fight against COVID-19.
The state government must also ensure availability of ambulances, beds and ICUs for patients suffering from other ailments, especially in rural Maharashtra.
First report of Task force
“The First Report has been submitted to the MPCC President. Also, a separate report on the role of the Congress Party in Maharashtra has been submitted. The Task Force will submit a second report on the strategy of lifting the lockdown and for the economic revival,” said the ex-CM of Maharashtra.
The former Chief Minister said the government must come up with a policy for expectant mothers during the lockdown period.
The state Congress task force has also suggested waiving off electricity charges for six months for the agriculture sector and also recommended crop loan and term loan waivers, he said.
Congress Task Force
The Task Force will be conducting interaction with key portfolio ministers of the State Government in the coming days to ensure better coordination and communication of recommendations.
The Task Force would continue to work constructively with the Government and other experts.
Balasaheb Thorat and senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge have constituted a Task Force of 18 members. There are four ex-Officio members, with Prithviraj Chavan as the Chairman. Dr Bhalchandra Mungekar is the Co-ordinator of the Task Force while Dr Amol Deshmukh is the Secretary.
Incidentally, the same recommendation was suggested by Deep Kakade, Youth Congress Chief, Mira-Bhayandar. He had said, “Government should consider waiving off the GST implemented on essential tools like PPE and N-95 masks.”