JD(S) floor leader and former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy on Thursday exhorted the government to come out with a special financial package for reviving sources of livelihoods of lakhs of people who had lost jobs and incurred losses in small businesses owing to COVID-19.
Speaking in the Legislative Assembly on a debate on the hike in prices of fuel and essential commodities, Mr. Kumaraswamy said the package would help people who had lost jobs in garment, hotel, cinema, small-scale industries, and other sectors during the pandemic. Many farmers had not been able to get good price for their produce owing to lockdowns and restrictions on movement of vehicles and goods. The package should become a model for other States, he said.
The JD(S) leader suggested to the government to postpone all development programmes if necessary, including the recently announced Amrut schemes, and provide financial package to unorganised sector workers who had been impacted most by the pandemic.
He criticised the Narendra Modi-led government for imposing heavy excise duty on petrol and diesel and rise in prices when people were suffering on all fronts owing to the pandemic. He opposed waivers and tax incentives given to corporates.
Mr. Kumaraswamy narrated several stories of sufferings of people during the debate and said handling of the pandemic was a major challenge to the government when its revenue was down due to lockdowns.
Dig at Congress
Taking a dig at the Congress, he said during the JD(S)–Congress coalition government (2018–19), the former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah put pressure on him to not stop Bhagya (welfare) schemes announced by the Congress government without allocating money in 2018–19 State Budget.
The JD(S) leader said ahead of the 2018 elections, the Siddaramaiah-led government had announced an increase in the quantity of rice being provided to BPL families under the Anna Bhagya scheme from 5 kg to 7 kg but without allocating money in the budget. Similarly, the Congress government announced construction of 17 lakh houses by setting aside ₹2,800 crore as against the requirement of ₹29,000 crore in the budget, Mr. Kumaraswamy said.