Chidambaram Demands US-Like Plan to Protect Workers’ Wages

He also asked the Centre to prepare an exit strategy in view of the lockdown and look into the issue of migrants.

2 min read
File image of Congress leader P Chidambaram.

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Wednesday, 29 April, urged the government to announce a scheme on the lines of the “paycheck protection program” in the US to protect the salaries and wages of 12 crore people as employers are facing financial crunch in the wake of the COVID-19-induced lockdown.

He also called upon the government to announce a financial packageof Rs 1 lakh crore wage protection assistance to the MSME sector, as proposed by his party, and provide financial assistance to states to fight the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“This is not a legislation but a financial assistance package,” said Chidambaram during the video-conference.


‘Govt May Have Luxury of Time, MSMEs Don’t’

The former finance minister asked the government to prepare an exit strategy in view of the lockdown and look into the issue of migrants stranded in different place due to it.

He further said, “It is bewildering that there has been absolutely no financial package or assistance announced for businesses since the onset of COVID-19. The government may have the luxury of time but the MSMEs do not. They need to know right away whether they will be helped to stay afloat and thereby pay salaries and wages to those dependent on these businesses.”

“Time is of the essence. In the absence of a clear signal of assistance from the government during these extremely difficult times, the private sector will be forced to resort to large scale retrenchments and layoffs, which will devastate livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people,” he said.

On ‘Paycheck Protection Programme’

Chidambaram also proposed a 'paycheck protection programme' for workers.

“We urge the prime minister to step in urgently and announce an assistance package to protect the wages/salaries and pay cheques that are due in the next few days,” he said at a press conference through video conferencing.

The April salaries of 12 crore employees working in the MSME and non-MSME sector mjust be protected and the government should do something about this, he said.

Passed in the US House and Senate last month, the Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.

Earlier, Congress president Sonia Gandhi had uggested that the government implement a five-point programme to rescue micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSME) from collapse.

(With inputs from PTI)

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