COVID 2.0 may hit state’s economy

SHILLONG, April 19: The COVID-battered economy of Meghalaya is likely to take another hit due to the sudden surge of cases in the state and the country beyond.
The 2020 pandemic had a debilitating effect on the local economy. The government is now facing challenges because of the new strain of the novel coronavirus.
“We are concerned about the economy of the country, which was on an upward trend. The (prevailing) situation will directly affect the central share of taxes to the state,” the Chief Minister said, wary of the revenue collection taking a hit.
But, he said, the government will ensure there is no shortage of medicines and emergency services are in place.
He allayed fears about shortage of vaccine in the state. “We may face challenge in the future but we have enough vaccines for quite a few days of vaccination,” he said.
The state has about 700,000 people aged 45 years or more and some 80,000 of them (17%) have been vaccinated. The government hopes to get more vaccines from the centre, Sangma said.
Govt will try to help NEIGRIHMS: Hek
Health and Family Welfare Minister, Alexander Laloo Hek on Monday said the state government will try its best to extend support to NEIGRIHMS if it is facing any hardship.
“We are ready to support NEIGRIHMS in whatever way we can since the institute caters not only to the people of the state but also the entire Northeast,” Hek told reporters.
NEIGRIHMS Director, Dr P Bhattacharya had recently said the institute would need not less than Rs 300 crore for COVID management if the situation turns like last year. Asked about it, the Minister said he would not be able to make any commitment on the funds allocation. “Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma, who is in-charge of the Finance department, will be able to take a call in this regard,” Hek said.
The state government had not allocated any funds to NEIGRIHMS from the Rs 399 crore it spent in combating the disease.
Hek said the government is gearing up to deal with any kind of situation vis-à-vis the pandemic. “The facilities that we have are sufficient to deal with the current situation. We will strengthen our facilities in case there is a sudden spike in the cases,” he stated.
The Health Minister said the COVID expenditure will be more than Rs 399 crore since the fight against it is still continuing. “The expenditure must have crossed Rs 399 crore. We will have to request the Centre to provide more funds to the state to deal with the situation,” he said. He added that the government will take all possible steps to protect the lives of the citizens.

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