Assam is losing Rs 1,000 crore everyday because of lockdown: Chief Minister

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal | PTI
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal | PTI

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Guwahati: Assam has been losing around Rs 1,000 crore every day because of the COVID-19 induced lockdown, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Friday said, quoting a survey by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Migrant workers returning to Assam will be trained to develop their skills and absorbed in the state, the chief minister said.

Terming the Rs 20 lakh crore special financial package announced by the Centre a “game-changer”, he said around 24 lakh people in over one lakh micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) in the state will immensely benefit from it.

“This package will change the current economic scenario of the country towards growth. The Centre and states are facing huge problems due to the halt in economic activities on account of the lockdown,” he said.

Asked about the losses Assam has incurred since the lockdown was announced in late March, Sonowal said the state has not calculated any estimate as of now on this aspect.

“The CII did a survey and they told us that Assam lost Rs 1,000 crore daily. We are going by their survey as they are experts in such studies,” he added.

On the Central package, the chief minister said the state government will devise a road map to utilise the funds for the MSME units in consultation with all the stakeholders, including the owners and industry bodies.

“In Assam, 99.9 per cent of the industries are MSME units, which contribute 39 per cent of the state’s GDP. The package announced by the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will benefit Assam tremendously,” he added.

The Central government on Wednesday announced a Rs 5.94 lakh crore package, including Rs 3 lakh crore of collateral-free automatic loans to boost MSMEs.

Sonowal also expressed happiness that around 2,000 sick units of the state will be benefitted from the fund announced for stressed units by the Centre as part of the package.

A subordinate debt of Rs 20,000 crore for stressed units, a Fund of Funds for equity infusion of Rs 50,000 crore, and revision in the definition of MSMEs are among the steps announced by the government to help MSMEs recover from disruptions caused by the coronavirus-related lockdown.

Sonowal said the state has urged the Centre to declare Assam as an investment destination for the foreign companies willing to come and invest in India after the coronavirus situation eases.

Asked about the migrant labourers returning to Assam from different parts of the country, he said the state considers them as assets, and not liabilities.

“They are a skilled force and we will absorb them. I have already instructed the industry minister to impart training for additional skills to them. The Economic Advisory Committee formed to frame guidelines will also consider this aspect,” Sonowal said.

He said around 6.5 lakh people have registered so far in the helpline for the stranded people, but the exact number of migrant workers is not known immediately.

On alleged corruption in selecting beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme, Sonowal said an inquiry has been initiated and all the guilty will be punished.

The scheme provides a payment of Rs 6,000 per year in three equal instalments of Rs 2,000 to beneficiaries.

Also read: Assam’s NRC wound was re-opened and then conveniently forgotten by India


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