CM bats for more economic activities to raise state revenue

New Delhi: Citing dwindling coffers of the states amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Thursday demanded opening up of more economic activities in the country to raise revenue of states.

Baghel also said that states must be given a free hand in deciding what all economic activities can be started by them instead of the Centre deciding it for them.

We have steel. We have cement in the state. If no construction activities take place in the country or elsewhere then who do we give it to. So there has to be demand and more economic activities in the country that could lead to the growth not only in Chhattisgarh but in the whole country, he told PTI in an interview.

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The chief minister said that suggestions have been given to the prime minister that state governments should have the right to decide on red, green and orange zones.

“The states should also have the right to decide on the economic activities that can be started. Officers sitting in the government of India know less than we in the states. We have more information as to what all businesses or industries can run in districts or in the state. All these rights must be with the states, he said.

Baghel said all the states are facing a financial crunch due to the coronavirus pandemic and Chhattisgarh will also feel the brunt of deteriorating economic activities in the country due to the lockdown.

All state chief ministers have said that the economic activities are almost finished in their respective jurisdictions during the lockdown. No business is running. No tax is coming in. There is a shortage of revenue in the state exchequer,” the chief minister of the Congress-ruled state said.

Baghel has sought Rs 30,000 crore financial assistance from the prime minister to help Chhattisgarh fight the coronavirus pandemic more effectively.

He said states should also be taken into confidence before starting rail and air services in areas under their control.

How will states do all the arrangements if they do not know how many trains or people would be coming to their states. We have to ensure who would live in self-isolation or institutional or self quarantine. We have to arrange facilities for those who cannot afford to live in quarantine on their own. So unless you take the state governments into confidence, this work (of looking after migrants and workers) cannot be done in a proper way, he said.

Baghel said Chhattisgarh has only four coronavirus positive cases now and if they keep sending people without informing the states, then how long does it take to increase the number of infected people?

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