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Step up testing, ensure fund transfers, increase MNREGS workdays to help poor fight coronavirus, says CPM

NEW Delhi: A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to follow a Janata Curfew on March 22 to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the CPM politbureau appealed to people to observe the day as a day of people’s solidarity in the fight against coronavirus.
The Left party, however, pointed to the absence of “concrete steps” in the PM’s suggestions, especially to deal with the health and economic aspects of the fight against coronavirus. In this light, the CPM demanded the scaling up of testing for the virus to cover the widest sections of people, And sought the government’s intervention to announce an increased expenditure to strengthen public health system with adequate free testing, hospital facilities, isolation wards and ventilators.
CPM also said a cash transfer of Rs. 5,000 to Jan Dhan accounts and all BPL beneficiaries should be made and that the Centre should provide funds to states for this. After economic welfare measures announced by the state governments in Kerala and West Bengal, CPM also called for free ration for one month through PDS to all BPL/APL families, including migrant labour by utilising the existing stock of 7.5 crore tonnes in the FCI godowns, apart from expanding MGNREGS workdays for 150 days and strengthening public distribution system to cover all essential commodities.
Suggesting measures especially to assist them poor, CPM said children who are beneficiaries of mid-day meals should be provided ration kits to the children’s houses/familiees, while the government should announce financial packages for sectors hit by the pandemic.
“This financial support must be conditional to the companies and enterprises not resorting to lay-offs and termination of jobs for the next three months,” CPM said in a statement. They also demanded that workers and employees who have to stay away from work due to the coronavirus should be given paid sick leave.

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