Nirmala Sitharaman announcements on Coronavirus: FM unveils Rs 1.7 lakh crore relief package, gives free LPG, wheat, rice to poor; key takeaways

The Central government on Wednesday unveiled an economic package worth Rs 1.7 lakh crores primarily focussed on the poorest and most vulnerable sections of the society.

 Nirmala Sitharaman announcements on Coronavirus: FM unveils Rs 1.7 lakh crore relief package, gives free LPG, wheat, rice to poor; key takeaways

Nirmala Sitharaman announced a financial aid package worth Rs1.7 lakh crore. Screengrab from Finance Ministry live stream

In a presser, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur announced cash doles, subsidies and food grain grants for the poor apart from some moderate measures for the organised sector market. However, the duo did not elaborate on where from the government planned to fund the welfare schemes.

The Finance Minister also kept mum on any further relief measures for lower middle class and the middle class income groups, small shopkeepers and vendors who depend on supply chain movement and direct demand in market to earn their living. Furthermore, the government also did not commit to any relaxations in EMI and credit card payments for medium income households, whose livelihood may be compromised due to the lockdown.

Here are the key takeaways from the economic package announced on Thursday.

  • A financial package worth Rs 1.7 lakh crore was announced which was divided into two parts: Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Samman Yojna and Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Samman Anna Yojna.

For Food Security

  • To ensure food security for the poorest, the government announced that all those dependent on the Public Distribution System will receive additional 5 kilograms of wheat/ rice per person per month, and 1 kilogramme of pulse per household.
  • Additionally, the government will give free LPG cylinders to woman beneficiaries of Ujjwala scheme. 8.3 crore BPL families are expected to benefit from government's decision.

Direct Cash Benefit 

  • The first installment under PM Kisan Samman Nidhi — a DBT scheme of Rs 6,000 yearly pension for small and medium farmers -- will be front loaded, giving immediate benefit to 8.69 crore farmers. This, however, is not an additional dole but an advance payment of the already provisioned for under the scheme.
  • The government has also announced a wage hike for daily-wage labourers dependent on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA). The current wage of Rs 182 for a day's work has been raised to Rs 202. This will translate into a benefit of Rs 2,000 per family for the entire period of 100 days of employment granted under the scheme.
  • For senior citizens, widows and differently-abled citizens from the marginal community, the government has provisioned for a one-time dole of Rs 1,000 through direct benefit transfer. This amount will be transferred in two installments over the next three months and is expected to benefit 3 crore people.
  • Additionally, 20 crore woman Jan Dhan account holders will be given ex-gratia amount of 500 rupees per month for the next three months, to run the affairs of their household.

Miscellaneous

  • The government will also provide Rs 50 lakh insurance cover to all frontline healthcare workers battling coronavirus for the next three months. ASHA workers, paramedics, doctors, nurses, sanitary workers set to benefit from move.
  • Collateral-free loans to 63 lakh Women Self-Help Groups to be doubled from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh. This will put immediate money in the hands of 7 crore households.
  • For construction workers, welfare fund for building and construction workers currently having Rs 31 thousand crore will be used. This will benefit 3.5 crore registered workers.

For Organised Sector

  • Government of India will pay the EPF contribution - of both employer and employee (12 percent each) - for the next three months. This is only for those establishments which have up to 100 employees, where 90 percent of employees earning less than Rs 15000 per month.
  • EPF scheme regulation will be amended to allow non refundable advance to 75 percent of the amount standing to the credit or 3 months wages whichever is lower. This will benefit 4.8 crore workers

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Updated Date: Mar 26, 2020 18:54:57 IST


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