Former finance minister P Chidambaram this morning yet again targeted the central government as he questioned the delay in formation of a special task force - announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week - to analyse the effects of the global pandemic coronavirus on nation's economy and advise on steps to reduce the financial strain.
In a series of tweets this morning, the 74-year-old Congress leader wrote: "Woke up to read the shocking news that, four days after the PM's announcement, the promised Economic Task Force has not been set up by the government!"
Woke up to read the shocking news that, four days after the PM's announcement, the promised Economic Task Force has not been set up by the government !— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) March 24, 2020
Attacking the Modi government, he tweeted: "Ministry of Finance has disowned responsibility for constituting the Task Force. Why doesn't the FM pick up the telephone and speak to the PM? Or is that taboo in this government?"
Last week, in a 29-minute televised address, the Prime Minister had said the coronavirus already had a huge effect on the global economy. But its impact in India is yet to be analysed. A special task force - headed by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman - would take an overview of the situation and suggest the way ahead, he declared.
"Keeping in mind the economic challenges arising out of the coronavirus epidemic, the government has decided to constitute COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force led by the Finance Minister. This task force will also ensure that all steps are taken to reduce the economic difficulties and execute them effectively," PM Modi announced on Thursday.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused severe problems for people from middle and lower income groups, PM Modi pointed out, and appealed to the business community and people belonging to the higher income group to be sensitive to the economic interests of the people whose services they avail.
The Indian equity benchmarks have suffered severe losses as fears of fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic have sparked worries about the global economy falling into recession.
On Monday, after a several states announced a lockdown over the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Chidambaram, who has been critical of central government's handling of the health crisis, said that a lockdown after one month will have "serious and unmanageable consequences".
Urging the states to learn lessons from Italy, where coronavirus deaths have surpassed China's count, he appealed "act boldly, act now. "There will be massive economic pain. But it is possible to handle the economic consequences than the loss of numerous lives," he tweeted.
This morning, taking a shot at the centre, he wrote: "After refusing to respond to the call for a nationwide lockdown, the central government is 'owning' the lockdowns announced by the state governments. Ironic and amusing, but still welcome!"
Nine people have died in the country, nearly 500 have been infected due to coronavirus, which has killed over 10,000 people worldwide, infected over 3 lakh. Across India, 32 states and union territories are observing a complete lockdown to control the spread of the highly contagious disease.