Punjab CM suggested utilization of ESIC, MGNREGA, other such funds by the Centre

Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday suggested utilization of ESIC, MGNREGA and other such funds by the Centre to provide part of the wages or lump sum financial assistance to industrial workers during the period of lockdown.

The Chief Minister has written to Union Minister of State Labour & Employment (independent charge) Santosh Gangwar in this regard.

Captain Amarinder said that he appreciated the March 29 directions of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs that all employers, be it in industry or in the Shops and Commercial establishments, should pay wages to their workers on the due date without deduction. However, the industrial sector in Punjab, which is largely comprised of MSMEs, has found it near impossible to implement these directions, he said.

Noting that the industrial sector was already under a lot of stress and stretched for resources, the Chief Minister said “any such mandate would only compound the problem and may even lead to lockdown/closure of many industrial units, which indeed is not the spirit behind these directions.”

The Chief Minister assured the Union Minister that the State Government would extend full cooperation in terms of any database of workers that the Ministry may need to explore and adapt some innovative ways of compensating and helping the workers.

The Chief Minister further pointed out that the pandemic of COVID-19 had not only caused an unprecedented crisis, but was continually throwing new challenges before all. The combined efforts of the Government of India and the State governments had helped to manage and contain the crisis so far, he pointed out, adding that “Among various challenges realized during the past few weeks, provision of relief and assistance to industrial workers continues to be an important one.”