Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman who had announced some regulation reliefs before the announcement of nationwide lockdown, held another press conference on 26 March 2020 to announce a comprehensive economic package that covers all vulnerable sections of the society and the frontline fighters of Coronavirus pandemic. The package has been spread over the next three months to ensure the affected area constantly helped during the tough times. It is overall Rs 1.7 lakh package for the poor and vulnerables and the important element is the money directly reaches them without any scope of leakage.
Here are the major takeaways.
Cover for Frontline Fighter
- Safai karamcharis, ward-boys, nurses, paramedics, technicians, doctors and specialists and other health would be covered by a Special insurance Scheme.
- If any health professional who while treating Covid-19 patients meets with some accident, he/she would be given a cover of ₹50 lakh under the scheme.
- All government health centres, wellness centres and hospitals of the Centre as well as States would be covered under this scheme, thus giving cover to approximately 30 lakh health workers to fight this pandemic.
Food for Poor through Public Distribution System
- It covers 80 crore people.
- In addition to 5 kg wheat or rice they are already getting, another 5 kg free will be given per person for next three months
- Region specific preferred 1 kg pulse shall also be provided for the next three months
- This shall be done through 2 instalments in a month
Cash Transfers through DBT
Cash transfers shall be provided to decisively help farmers, MGNREGA, poor widows, pensioners, women to sail through the tough time arising due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Farmers: Under PM Kisan, ₹2,000 advanced amount is being credited in April itself, benefitting more than 8 crore farmers.
MGNREGA: By increasing daily wage to ₹202/day, monthly income shall.be increased by ₹2,000, thus benefitting 5 crore people through DBT
Old Age, widow, Divyanga: one time ex gratia of ₹1,000 for 3 months in two instalments shall be granted via DBT benefitting 3 crore people.
Jan Dhan: ₹500 per month for the next three months shall be transferred into the bank accounts of 20 crore women Jan Dhan account holders.
Ujjwala: More than 8 crore Ujjwala beneficiary families will be provided free cylinders for next three months.
Women Self Help Groups: 63 lakh groups, translating into 7 crore families associated with SHGs shall get another ₹10 lakh collateral free loan, taking the total amount of such loans to ₹20 lakh.
For Organised Sector: Both contribution from employer and employee to EPF shall be borne by the central government, amounting to the total 24% money contribution for next three months. This is for those companies employing upto 100 employees among which 90% earn less than ₹15,000 per month. This is intended to benefit 80 lakh employees across 4 lakh establishments. Further, with an amendment to the EPF rules, employees are now allow non-refundable advance of upto 75% of your contribution or three months salary, whichever is lower, this benefiting over 4 crore EPFO subscribers.
For Construction Workers
State governments have been directed to utilize the Labour welfare fund to the tune of ₹31,000 crore that was set up especially dedicated to the welfare to construction labourers. It can now be used to help 3.5 crore construction workers.
District Mineral Funds
States shall be requested to utilize the District Mineral Fund for supplementing and augmenting the medical requirements during the crisis period.
Questions were asked by the media on the measures that can be expected related to EMIs, MSMEs and hospital and aviation industries. FM Nirmala Sitharaman said in her reply that in an unprecedented situation like this, the primary duty is to reach out to the vulnerable society, which the government has addressed within 36 hours of the announcement of the lockdown. The government is constantly reviewing and chalking out the plans to address all issues.