Coronavirus Lockdown: Sitharaman announces 1.7 lakh crore relief package for poor
Toshi Tiwari March 26, 2020
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In the wake of an unprecedented nation-wide lockdown, to control novel coronavirus (Covid-19) infections, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, today, announced a Rs. 1.76 Trillion economic package. It aims to benefit more than 80 Crore migrant workers, urban and rural poor hit by lockdown.
The relief measures for the country has come as a ray of hope that is grappling with mitigating deadly Coronavirus spread and is in a 21-day lockdown.
The economic relief package will be made available under existing Prime Minister Gareeb Kalyan Yojana. It will be delivered both through cash transfer and food security. The package will come into immediate effect.
Earlier this week, the finance minister announced measures related to statutory compliance and regulatory.
Here are the key highlights of the relief package announced by FM, Nirmala Sitharaman:
- PM Gareeb Kalyan Scheme will entail Rs 1.7 lakh crore. It will include both cash transfer and food security.
- 3 Months medical insurance cover worth Rs 50 lakhs for each corona warriors (sanitation workers, ASHA workers, doctors, nurses, paramedics) who are on the frontlines of the corona battle
- 80 crore poor people will be given an additional 5kg of rice/wheat per person to the existing 5kg per month per person. An Additional 1kg pulse (as per regional preference) also will be given free per household.
Direct cash transfers which is mainly under DBT :
Ten specific group of people will be addressed under DBT. These will include farmers, MGNREGA beneficiaries, senior citizens, poor widows, poor Divyang (handicapped), women having Jan Dhan Yojana accounts and women under Ujjwala Yojana, women in SHGs, construction workers.
- Farmers: The first instalment of Rs 2,000 out of annual Rs Six thousand allocated of PM Kisan Yojna will get transferred by the first week of April 2020. Through this scheme, 8.69 crore farmers will get an immediate benefit.
- MGNREGA: Increase in wage rate from Rs 182 to Rs 202 amounting to increase of Rs 2000 per worker. It will benefit over five crore people.
- Senior Citizens/ Widows/Divayangs: An additional Ex gratia amount of Rs 1,000 for the next three months will be available in two instalments. It will benefit over three crore divayangs, widows and senior citizens.
- Women Jan Dhan account holders: Ex gratia of Rs 500 per month for the next three months. This is likely to benefit 20 crore women.
- Women Ujjawala Scheme: Beneficiaries under the scheme will get free cylinders for the next three months. This is likely to benefit 8.3 crore BPL families.
- Women Self Help Groups: Under the Deen Dayal National Livelihood Mission, collateral-free loan will be given up to Rs 20 lakh from existing Rs 10 lakh. This scheme will have an impact on seven crore households through 63 lakh SHGs.
- Construction workers: The state governments have been directed to use the welfare fund for building and construction workers. The fund already has around Rs 31,000 crore. It can be utilised to help those who are facing financial hardships because of the Covid-19 lockdown.
- The funds available under the district mineral fund will be utilised for testing activities, medical screening, providing health attention needed to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
- Government will pay the EPF contribution of both the employer and the employee, put together of 24 per cent for the next three months. Those establishments with up to 100 employees, 90 per cent of them earning less than Rs 15,000 will be eligible.
- EPFO regulation would get amended; workers can now withdraw up to 75% of the PF balances or three months of wages whichever is less as non-refundable advance. It is likely to benefit 4.8 crore workers.