COVID-19 Package: FM Sitharaman Pledges Rs 1.7 Lakh Cr to the Poor
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday, 26 March, announced an economic relief package to counter the repercussions of the coronavirus outbreak. In a press briefing, she pledged Rs 1.7 lakh cr to those directly affected financially.
Here are the key announcements under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana’:
- The package will include Rs 50 lakh per person as insurance cover for doctors, paramedics and healthcare workers dealing with coronavirus outbreak, the FM said.
- 80 crore poor people, in addition to the already allotted 5 kg wheat/rice, will get 5 more kgs of rice/wheat and 1 kg of preferred pulses every month for the next three months.
- 8.69 crore farmers will immediately benefit through direct benefit cash transfers. An installment of Rs 2000 each will be transferred in the first week of April under the existing PM Kisan Yojana.
- The daily wage under the MNREGA scheme will be increased to Rs 202 from Rs 182 to benefit 5 crore families.
- The finance minister also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 1,000 to 3 crore poor senior citizens, poor widows and poor specially-abled.
- 20 crore women Jan Dhan account holders will get Rs 500 per month for next three months, to help them run their households.
- Ujjwala Yojana beneficiaries will get free cooking gas (LPG cylinders) in next three months. This will benefit 8.3 crore below poverty line families, according to the FM.
- Collateral-free loan will be doubled to Rs 20 lakh to 63 lakh women self-help groups, which is expected to impact seven crore households.
- The Government of India will pay the Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) contribution of both employer and employee for next 3 months for those establishments which have up to 100 employees and 90 percent of them earn less than 15,000.
- Workers will be allowed to draw a non-refundable advance of 75 percent from credit in provident fund account or 3 months’ salary, whichever is lower.
- For the welfare of 3.5 crore registered building and construction workers, the government has given orders to state governments to use a Rs 31,000 crore allocated fund to provide relief.
- The Centre will also request state governments to use the District Mineral Fund to augment medical testing and screening as well as providing health attention.
Earlier, on Tuesday, the finance minister announced a slew of regulatory and compliance measures to alleviate the hardships being faced by various businesses ahead of the announcement of a nationwide lockdown.
She extended all key deadlines to 30 June 2020, including the deadline for filing Income Tax returns for FY 18-19, GST returns for the months of March, April and May, and Aadhaar-PAN linking.
The FM added that stock market developments are being monitored closely.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address to the nation on Tuesday, said that the entire country will be on lockdown for 21 days and appealed to every citizen to not step out of their houses for the duration.