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Ban media ads by govt, suspend Central Vista project, Sonia Gandhi suggests PM Modi

This comes after the Prime Minister reached out to several Opposition leaders, including the Congress chief, on Monday

By Our Bureau and PTI in New Delhi
  • Published 7.04.20, 2:27 PM
  • Updated 7.04.20, 3:31 PM
  • 2 mins read
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"This 30 percent (i.e. Rs 2.5 lakh crores per year approximately) can then be allocated towards establishing an economic safety net for migrant workers, labourers, farmers, MSME’s and those in the unorganised sector," Congress chief Sonia Gandhi wrote in the letter. (AP)

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggesting five measures to conserve money for the fight against coronavirus, including a ban on media advertisements by government and PSUs for two years and suspending the Central Vista beautification project.

The suggestions come after Modi reached out to several Opposition leaders, including Gandhi, on Monday.

Hailing the decision by the Centre to cut the salary of the Prime Minister, MPs and Union ministers, she said that the move was the need of the hour. She further proposed ordering proportionate reduction of 30 per cent in expenditure budget (other than salaries, pensions and central sector schemes) for the government of India.

"This 30 percent (i.e. Rs 2.5 lakh crores per year approximately) can then be allocated towards establishing an economic safety net for migrant workers, labourers, farmers, MSME’s and those in the unorganised sector," Gandhi wrote in the letter.

All foreign visits of the President, Prime Minister, Union ministers, chief ministers, state ministers and bureaucrats must be put on hold, she suggested, adding that exceptions can be made in case of "special emergency or exigencies in national interest" to be cleared by the Prime Minister.

She advised the Prime Minister to impose a "complete ban" on media advertisements—television, print and online— by the Centre and PSUs for two years.

"The only exceptions should be advisories for Covid-19 or for issues relating to public health. Given that the Central Government currently spend an average of ₹1250 crores 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," the COngress chief added.

Gandhi further called for transferring all money under the 'PM-Cares' fund to the 'Prime Ministers National Relief Fund' to ensure efficiency, transparency and accountability.

" I understand that ₹3800 crores approximately are lying unutilised in the PM-NRF (at the end of FY2019). These funds, plus the amount in ‘PM-Cares’, can be utilised to ensure an immediate food security net for those at the very margins of society," Gandhi wrote in the letter.

Calling the Central Vista beautification and construction project "self-indulgent" in such times, she suggested suspending the Rs 20,000-crore project.

" 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 said, adding the amount can be used to build hospital and provide better equip the frontline workers with Personal Protection Equipment (PPEs).