By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, Dec 11 (IANS): In May, when the Center announced a massive 20-rupee lac-crore economic stimulus package, it was enthusiastically applauded by the Covid-ravaged country, at the height of the pandemic’s shutdown.
As it turned out later, the celebrations were apparently premature and the net penalty was very modest compared to the astronomical amount proclaimed by the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Trying to unravel the exact benefits of the historic 20 rupee lac-crore financial package, a Pune businessman, Prafull Sarda, submitted an inquiry under RTI and received some shocking responses from the Center.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Among other things, he sought details on the disbursement of the massive Rs 20 lakh-crore, sectoral and state package and whether there were any outstanding balances with the government.
The ministry reported that under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan, an Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme was introduced, which was available until October 31 or until the ECLGS sanctions the Rs 3-lac-crore, whichever comes first.
“So far, of the Rs 3 lakh-crore sanctioned through ECLGS, the government has disbursed around 1.20 lakh-crore as loans to various states,” Sarda said.
This is roughly equivalent to a loan of Rs 8 per head of the Indian population of Rs 130 million, which will have to be repaid at some point, he added.
“The government has sanctioned Rs 3-lakh crore of which about 40 percent (Rs 1.20 lac-crore) is disbursed. The big question is: Where is the remaining amount of Rs 17-lakh crore of the total package? “Eight months? After it was announced? Was it another fraud (Jumla) against the Indian people?” Sarda asked.
According to RTI’s response, while Maharashtra took the highest loans under ECLGS of Rs 14,364.30 crore, Tamil Nadu ranked second with Rs 12,445.58 crore, followed by Gujarat with Rs 12,005.92 crore.
Next on the list are: Uttar Pradesh at Rs 8,907.38 crore, Rajasthan at Rs 7,490.01 crore and Karnataka at Rs 7,249.99 crore.
In the bottom group, the Union states / Territories are: Lakshadweep Islands at Rs 1.62 crore, Ladakh at Rs 27.14 crore, Mizoram at Rs 34.80 crore and Arunachal Pradesh at Rs 38.54 crore.
Sarda said that out of the unprecedented Rs 20-lakh crore aid package, only Rs 3-lakh crore was sanctioned under the ECLGS, and of that barely Rs 1.20-lac crore has been disbursed among all states and UT of the country .
“The whole country is reeling from the coronavirus pandemic and the aftermath of the blockade since the last 10 months. Millions of people, their families and companies are suffering, but the Center has not yet sanctioned adequate funds to normalize the situation,” Sarda said.
He noted that the sectors most affected include all industries in the manufacturing sectors, the hotel and tourism industry, the media and affiliated sectors, and the unorganized sectors.
“In addition, more than 6 million micro, small and medium enterprises have closed, which has caused the loss of jobs of more than 15 million people, compared to a handful of people who have not been affected by the pandemic lockdown.” Sarda noted.
Referring to the unrest among the suffering masses as indicated by the ongoing agitation of farmers, the businessman said it would be prudent “if the government takes urgent action to release the remaining funds from the package to help revive the economy in the highest priority” .