COVID-19 | Raj Thackeray to CM Uddhav Thackeray: A few relaxations will help economy
Raj Thackeray suggests opening liquor shops, small eateries to help an ailing state economy while enforcing strict pandemic guidelines
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena president Raj Thackeray on Thursday suggested to his cousin and CM Uddhav Thackeray that some relaxations could be granted with regard to reopening a few commercial activities to make up for the state's sinking coffers. One measure was to allow liquor shops, permit rooms, and economy restaurants to operate in the lockdown period which might extend further after May 3.
Raj wrote a comprehensive letter to the CM spelling out imminent economic dangers and some ways to recover it. He said the government should stop thinking of morality in reopening liquor dens which have been shut since April 18. "Liquor consumers must be forced to follow pandemic guidelines such as social distancing," he said.
The MNS chief said the idea behind reopening the liquor joints and restaurants should be to generate revenue because the state needs it most to sustain expenses instead of placating the consumers. He said that liquor sales earned the state R41.66 crore daily in taxes. "The monthly collection has been R1,250 crore and annual income around R14,000 crore," he said, while adding that most petrol pumps too were shut and real estate transactions were on a standstill for the past 35 days.
Eateries can feed many
Raj also suggested that small chapati-bhaji centres and eateries where low-cost meals are available could be opened. "These are the places that feed a large number of people who may not have the facility to cook at home or may not have enough groceries. It is understood that social distancing should be maintained to keep Corona away. But why can't we start a takeaway or home delivery system and the owners should be held responsible with regard to social distancing and hygiene," he wrote, adding that the step would kick off some economic activity.
He said the government was struggling to pay its employees and feed the frontline warriors like doctors, nurses and police personnel on duty. "It's like taking out something from there and putting it somewhere else because the government doesn't have money," he said.
Govt must ease life
He said the vegetable markets, fruit shops, milk centres, bakeries and grocery stores should be reopened in a phased manner everywhere. "These shops are doing business in some places but there is no coordination. We must relaunch them to make the wheels of the economy roll. It is pertinent for the government to ease daily life. This isn't Maharashtra-specific but a national issue. The Centre may help financially but we don't know how much that would be. So, it would be better for us to find ways to become economically self-reliant," he said.
A sectoral expert welcomed the suggestion but said that the mere opening of liquor shops wouldn't get much revenue and advised that the liquor and beer factories in the state should also be started because they pay more duty at source than the retailers. "Despite instructions that factories could start from April 20 the business is still stalled," said a retailer from Mumbai.
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