In her second press conference at 4 pm on Thursday, 14 May, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman shared further details on the economic package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday amid the COVID-19 lockdown. The second tranche detailed relief measures for the migrant workers, farmers, street vendors, and marginal traders.
Introducing national portability cards under the ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ scheme, Sitharaman said workers in any part of the the country can avail ration.
The scheme covers 67 crore beneficiaries in 23 states, with 83 percent of the PDS population to get access by August 2020, and 100 percent to be achieved by March 2021, she said.
Here are some key announcements made by Sitharaman for migrant laboureres and farmers:
- PDS ration cards to go national, so migrant workers can use ration cards across states
- Free food grains supply to all migrant workers for the next 2 months
- Non-card holders to be given 5kg wheat/rice per person and 1 kg chana per family/month for 2 months. “Eight crore migrants will benefit and Rs 3500 crores will be spent on this,” Sitharaman said.
- Government to launch a scheme for affordable rental housing for migrant workers/urban poor to provide ease of living by converting government-funded housing in cities into Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) under PPP mode through concessionaire
- Government to support nearly 50 lakh street vendors with Rs 5,000 crore Special Credit Facility
- Government to provide interest subvention of 2% for prompt payees for a period of 12 months under MUDRA scheme; relief of Rs 1500 crores to MUDRA-Shishu loan payees
- Government to extend the Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) for middle income group (annual income Rs 6-18 lakhs) up to March 2021; 2.5 lakh middle income families to benefit during 2020-21
- NABARD to extend additional re-finance support of Rs 30,000 crores for farmers for crop loan requirement of rural co-operative banks and RRBs
- Rs 30,000 crores additional emergency working capital funding through NABARD; 3 crore farmers to benefit
- To create job opportunities for tribals /adivasis, government to soon approve plans worth Rs 6,000 crores under Compensatory Afforestation Management & Planning Authority (CAMPA) Funds
- Rs 2 lakh crore concessional credit boost to 2.5 crore farmers through Kisan Credit Cards
Reiterating that the government is “conscious” about the migrant workers’ crisis, Sitharaman said that the Centre has permitted state governments to utilise SDRF funds for setting up shelter for migrants and providing them with food, water and other basic facilities.
“We have already generated 14.62 crore person-days of work till 13 May, which is 40-50% more persons enrolled as compared to last May,” she said. Migrant workers going back to their states being actively enrolled under MGNREGA, Sitharaman said.
On Wednesday, Sitharaman had announced various relief measures for MSMEs, including several categories of collateral-free loans, raised investment limits for micro enterprises, as well as relief measures for taxpayers and real estate as part of the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ package.
Atmanirbhar (self-reliant) does not mean India will be an isolationist country, Sitharaman had said during the briefing.
In an address to the nation on Tuesday, PM Modi had announced the 'Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan' – an economic relief package worth Rs 20 lakh crore for a ‘self-reliant’ India. He said that the package, estimated to be around 10 percent of the GDP, is intended to help fight the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.
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