Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today announced a slew of measures for the poor and daily wagers to help them during the 21-day nationwide lockdown imposed due to the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus outbreak in India. Announcing a mega relief package, Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan scheme, worth Rs 1.70 lakh crore, the finance minister said the package will help people overcome the hardships they may face due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus in India.
“Today’s measures are intended at reaching out to the poorest of the poor, with food and money in hands, so that they do not face difficulties in buying essential supplies and meeting essential needs,” Nirmala Sitharaman said.
Here are the major takeaways from Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcements:
1) FOR HEALTH WORKERS
To protect the interest of health workers, the government announced a Rs 50 lakh insurance per health worker. Nirmala Sitharaman said safai karamcharis, ward-boys, nurses, paramedics, technicians, doctors and specialists and other health will be covered by this special insurance scheme.
“Any health professional who while treating Covid-19 patients meets with some accident, then he/she would be compensated with an amount of Rs 50 lakh under the scheme,” the announcement said.
Besides this, all government health centres, wellness centres and hospitals of the Centre as well as state governments will be covered under this scheme. Under this scheme, approximately 22 lakh health workers would be provided insurance cover to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
2) FOR POOR
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that daily wages under the MNREGA have been increased to Rs 202 a day from Rs 182. This will benefit nearly 5 crore families, Sitharaman said.
As per today’s announcement, 80 crore poor people will get 5 kg wheat or rice and 1 kg of preferred pulses for free every month for the next three months. This will be provided under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana. This is over and above the free ration that they already get under other schemes at present.
Besides this, under the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, gas cylinders will be provided free of cost to 8 crore poor families for the next three months. During this period, a maximum of three gas cylinders will be provided.
3) FOR FARMERS
Under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana announced today, farmers will be given Rs 2,000 in April. The government estimates that this would cover 8.7 crore families. The total amount distributed is estimated to be Rs 16,000 crore.
4) DIRECT CASH TRANSFER
A total of 20.40 crores PM JAN Dhan Yojana women account-holders will be given ex-gratia of Rs 500 per month for next three months.
“This will help them run their household during this difficult period. For this purpose, the Government of India will spend Rs 31000 crores,” Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.
5) FOR LOW WAGE EARNERS
Low wage earners in the unorganized sector are among the worst hit due to the lockdown and the resultant economic crisis. To help people who fall under this category, the government has decided to pay 24 per cent of their monthly wages into their Provident Fund accounts for the next three months.
“Wage earners below Rs15, 000 per month in businesses having less than 100 workers are at risk of losing their employment,” the government said adding that the assistance would help prevent “disruption in their employment”.
6) For senior citizens, widows and differently able
The government said there are around 3 crore senior citizens, widows and differently abled people who are vulnerable due to economic disruption caused by Covid-19. “Government will give them Rs 1,000 to tide over difficulties during next three months. Rs 3,000 crores has been provided for this purpose in the PM Garib Kalyan Package,” the finance minister said.
7) FOR ORGANISED SECTOR
Nirmala Sitharaman said Employees’ Provident Fund Regulations will be amended to include ‘pandemic’ as the reason to allow non-recoverable advance of 75 per cent of the amount or three months of the wages, whichever is lower, from their accounts.
8) For self-help groups
Women organised through 63 lakhs self-help groupssupport 6.85 crore households. “Limit of collateral free lending would be increased from Rs 10 to Rs 20 lakhs. This will help them by additional credit availability,” Sitharaman said.
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