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Current 35 per cent cap in SDRF for COVID-related expenditure not sufficient: Punjab CM

NEW DELHI: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said that the current cap of 35 per cent in State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) for COVID-related expenditure, as per Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) guidelines, is not sufficient to meet current requirements.

His remarks came during a video conference of Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi with Chief Ministers of some states to review the coronavirus situation.

"During a video conference meet of PM Modi with CMs of some states to review Covid situation, Capt Amarinder Singh said current cap of 35% in State Disaster Relief Fund for Covid related expenditure, as per MHA guidelines, is not sufficient to meet current requirements," Punjab Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said.

Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases and 50 per cent revenue decline for the first quarter of this fiscal in Punjab, Singh sought from Prime Minister Narendra Modi a liberal financial package for states to fill the collection gap caused by the pandemic, and also flexibility on COVID-related terms of expenditure in SDRF.

According to the CMO, Singh also urged the Prime Minister to review the University Grants Commission (UGC) decision on mandatory exams for exit classes to be held by September 30 citing the state's rising cases of COVID, which have gone up to 24,891 with 604 deaths.
Punjab may not be in a position to conduct exams in September as it may be facing its peak at that time, he said.

The UGC has issued revised guidelines regarding the conduct of terminal semesters and final year exams by Universities and educational institutions. It has been suggested that exams may be completed by September in online or offline modes.

The Chief Minister also sought central government assistance for online school education, especially for poor children of Classes X and XII.

More money was needed for creating the infrastructure needed to support online education, he added.

Meanwhile, the CMO informed that on the Chief Minister's directions, Punjab taxation department intensified its efforts to check tax evasion and penalty of Rs 4.12 crores was imposed on 310 defaulter vehicles out of 348 during July.


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