Chief minister of Tamilnadu MK Stalin on Tuesday wrote to his counterparts in 12 states, urging them to write to the Union finance minister and the Reserve Bank of India on the need for a moratorium on loan repayment for MSMEs and small businesses.

MK Stalin’s letter was addressed to the chief ministers of West Bengal, Telangana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Odisha, Maharashtra, Kerala, Jharkhand, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh.

Stating that he had taken this up with the Government of India, Stalin requested the states to write to the Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman & the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Shaktikanta Das, on the issue. Stalin, who has been in office for a month, urged his counterparts “to prevail on them to offer a moratorium on repayment of loans for at least the first two quarters of 2021-2022 to all small borrowers with outstanding up to 5 crore in view of the lockdowns induced by the second wave of Covid-19.”

Citing the example of how the states’ collective effort in asking for vaccines to be procured centrally and distributed free of cost to states led to the Union government to revise its position accordingly on Monday, Stalin urged for states to come together once again. “We need to show our collective strength at this hour of great need,” Stalin said in his letter.

Previously, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan had written to 11 non-BJP ruled states, including Tamil Nadu, to put up a joint effort to get vaccines from the Union government. Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik also followed suit. Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy had written to Vijayan for states to speak in a single voice regarding the vaccines.

During April-May last year, when the Union government announced the nationwide lockdown, a moratorium was offered on repayment of loans for such borrowers. “However, in April-June, 2021, when lockdowns are being imposed based on local conditions by the respective states, similar relief to borrowers is not being provided for,” Stalin said, adding that the absence of such relief measures would force many businesses to close leading to economic distress. “These MSMEs and small businesses are the mainstays of our economy and employment generation.”

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