Ban govt ads, foreign trips: Sonia’s cost-cut ideas to fight COVID-19

Gandhi called upon the PM to suspend the ₹20,000 crore Central Vista beautification and construction project forthwith

Sonia Gandhi, Congress, Congress President, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, PM CARES, coronavirus, COVID-19
The Congress chief called for transferring all money under the PM Cares fund to the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund to ensure efficiency, transparency and accountability. File Photo: PTI

Suspend ₹20,000 crore-worth Central Vista beautification project, ban government advertisements and cancel all foreign visits including that of the Prime Minister, said Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday (April 7), suggesting measures to conserve money for the fight against COVID-19.

Gandhi wrote five-pointer suggestion letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he reached out to several opposition leaders on Monday (April 6) asking for ways to contribute more to the fight from a financial perspective.

In her letter to the prime minister, Gandhi also called for ordering proportionate reduction of 30 per cent in expenditure budget (other than salaries, pensions and central sector schemes) for the government of India.

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Gandhi called upon the PM to suspend the ₹20,000 crore Central Vista beautification and construction project forthwith. “At a time like this, such an outlay seems self-indulgent to say the least. I am certain that Parliament can function comfortably within the existing historical buildings. There is no urgent or pressing requirement that cannot be postponed until this crisis is contained,” she wrote.

Asserting that the need of the hour is austerity measures to divert funds to the fight against COVID-19, she said, “Given that the Central Government currently spend an average of ₹1,250 crore per year on media advertisements (not including an equal or greater amount spent by PSUs and Government companies), this will free up a substantial amount to alleviate the economic and social impacts of Covid-19.”

All foreign visits of the president, prime minister, Union ministers, chief ministers, state ministers and bureaucrats must be put on hold, she said, pointing out “The amount (which is around Rs 393 crores for just the Prime Minister and Union Cabinet’s trips in the last five years) can be utilised extensively in measures to combat Covid-19.”

Related news: PM Modi speaks to oppn leaders over COVID-19 situation in India

The Congress chief called for transferring all money under the PM Cares fund to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund to ensure efficiency, transparency and accountability.

Gandhi remarked that it is a “waste of effort and resources” to maintain two separate entities for distribution of funds and pointed out that ₹3,800 crore was lying unutilised in the PM’s relief fund.

She called it a “waste of effort and resources” to have and create two separate silos for the distribution of funds, pointing out that Rs 3,800 crore was lying unutilised in the PM’s relief fund.

“Every single Indian has made great personal sacrifices to fight this disease. They have complied with every suggestion, instruction and decision taken by your office and the Central Government. It is time that the Legislature and the Executive reciprocate this trust and good faith,” she wrote.

(With inputs from agencies)

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