With a surge in COVID-19 cases and 50% revenue decline in the first quarter of this fiscal in Punjab, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday sought from Prime Minister Narendra Modi a liberal financial package for States to fill the deficit caused by the pandemic, and also flexibility on pandemic-related terms of expenditure in the State Disaster Relief Fund.

During a videoconference the Prime Minister had with some Chief Ministers, Captain Amarinder said the current cap of 35% in the SDRF for the pandemic-related expenditure, as per the MHA guidelines, is not sufficient to meet the current requirements.

Citing the State’s rising cases — 24,891 with 604 deaths — the Chief Minister also urged the PM to review the UGC decision on mandatory exams for exit classes to be held by September 30. Punjab may not be able to conduct exams in September as it may be facing its peak at that time, he said, suggesting promotion on past performance and internal assessment, with an option to take improvement exams later. He also sought the Central government assistance for online school education, especially for poor children of Classes 10 and 12.

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