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Citing Vaccine Policy Change, MK Stalin Marks Next Goal For States

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There has been no relief announced during the second wave lockdown, MK Stalin wrote(File)

Chennai:

Buoyed by the change in Centre’s vaccine policy, Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin has written to his counterparts in 12 states, seeking their support in demanding moratorium on loans by Small and Medium Enterprises. In the letter, he wrote that the Centre has reversed the country’s vaccination policy “due to our collective efforts”. “We need to show our collective strength at this hour of great need,” he added.

The letter was addressed to the Chief Ministers of all the non-BJP states — Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Jharkhand, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Telangana and West Bengal.

Then pointing to what he called an “asymmetry in the treatment of borrowers, particularly MSME units and small borrowers, during the first and second waves of Covid-19,” he asked the Chief Ministers to write to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India on the issue.

Underscoring that no relief has been offered to small businessmen during the second wave of Covid, he wrote that the Finance Minister should give relief at least for two quarters for loans upto Rs 5 crore.

“The absence of such relief measures would force many businesses to close and would lead to widespread economic distress. These MSMEs and small businesses are the mainstay of our economy and employment generation,” his letter read.

The Centre has repeatedly blamed the states for the controversial May version of the vaccine policy, saying the states had demanded that they should be allowed to purchase vaccines and under the federal structure, the government was in no position to refuse.

The opposition though, has congratulated itself for the change, saying it was a result of the pressure exerted by them as well as the Supreme Court, which had taken up the case suo motu and harshly criticised the Centre.

In his letter, Mr Stalin said after announcing free vaccines for the frontline workers and people over the age of 45 years, it “shifted the responsibility to procure and administer vaccines to people in the age group of 18 to 45 to the State Governments”.

“Many amongst us pointed out the fact that the most appropriate monosponic purchaser would be the Government of India. Further, considering that the Union Government also has considerably larger fiscal resources and a budget provision of Rs. 35,000 crore in the Union Budget for 2021-2022, it was further emphasized by us that the Union Government should purchase the vaccines centrally and issue them free of cost to all States,” his letter read.

“I am happy that all our collective efforts have has reversed the earlier policy yesterday,” he added.

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