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Need another few days to take final call on lifting coronavirus lockdown: Karnataka


Bengaluru, Apr 07: The Karnataka Government indicated on Tuesday it's too early to take a call now on lifting the nation-wide lockdown but said it's in favour of its extension in COVID-19 hotspots in the country by at least an additional two weeks.

Need another few days to take final call on lifting lockdown: Karnataka

"We need to see for another few days before taking final call," Medical Education Minister Sudhakar K, who is in-charge of all matters related to COVID-19, told 'PTI' when asked if the State is in favour of the rollback after the 21- day period ends on April 14.

The Minister opined that the decision on its withdrawal should be based on the COVID-19 pandemic situation at the time in terms of number of cases and response to the outbreak. When the lockdown is lifted, it has to be in a staggered and phased manner, and not at one go, Sudhakar stressed.

"Where there are red alerts and zones, those zones, in my opinion, should continue to be in a lockdown situation at least for two weeks...till this month-end, I will request them (the Centre) to do this," he said.

The Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Monday appealed to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to extend the 21-day national lockdown imposed to contain COVID-19 outbreak beyond April 14, saying it was essential to save lives. Sudhakar said the Karnataka government is facing financial challenges because of drastic fall in revenues due to the lockdown, adding, it would take "tough decisions" to cut expenditure.

The Finance Department is in the process of evaluating the State's fiscal position. "Finance department is gathering information...what is the need now, what should be the overall expenditure, how much we can save; financial support for unorganised and organised sector, along with stimulus to other sectors, we have to see where we stand financially," the Minister said.

"Based on that, we have to take certain steps for sure because after all the government runs on the exchequer money. Once the exchequer is stopped because of lockdown, we are not getting GST, no motor vehicle tax. No tax money is coming. Government also has to run right? he said.

He said commitment and obligations with regard to paying interest on loans taken at the national and international level would have to be met. "So, there are some financial constraints, and financial challenges before the government.

The Government will take tough decisions only after studying the entire finance (position of the State)." The Telangana government last week announced pay cut for government employees. The Union Cabinet on Monday approved a 30 per cent cut in salaries of all Members of Parliament and a two-year suspension of the MP Local Area Development (MPLAD) scheme.

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