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Centre should come up with ‘Food for Work’ scheme for poor: Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot urges PM Modi

JAIPUR: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the Centre should come up with a ‘Food for Work’ scheme as a social safety net for the poor in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown.

While participating in the video conference of chief ministers of various states with the Prime Minister, Gehlot said that the decision on the extension of the lockdown should be taken after taking all the states into confidence.

The CM pointed out that the ongoing lockdown poses a threat to the livelihood of the ragpickers, hawkers/rickshaw pullers, nomads and other helpless people.

In such a situation, the Centre should consider revamping a scheme on the lines of ‘Food for Work’.

Food grains are available in bulk with the central government for the operation of such a scheme, he said in a statement.

Gehlot said that the proposed scheme was earlier introduced during a famine-drought under the tenure of then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002 and proved to be very popular and successful.

Gehlot said that the Rajasthan government has provided an ex-gratia amount of Rs 2,500 to more than 31 lakh families of the poorer sections who do not come under the purview of social security pensions.

The Centre should also devise a similar scheme of ex-gratia payment for this category of people so that they can get financial support, he said.

The CM suggested the Centre give concessions in central GST and incentive packages for industries.

He requested permission for the state to increase the borrowing capacity and increase fiscal deficit limit mentioned in the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act to 5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

He called for making available Rs 1 lakh crore grant to the state governments at the earliest.

After listing out various steps taken by the state government during the ongoing lockdown, the CM emphasised on taking a collective decision by looking to the situation of the individual states and taking the respective state governments into confidence.

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