New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday unveiled second tranche of Rs 20 lakh crores economic stimulus announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to revive the economy hit by novel Coronavirus outbreak in the country. Starting the press conference, FM Sitharaman said that today’s initiatives focuses on migrant workers, street vendors, small traders, the self-employed and small farmers.
While sharing government’s initiative during the pandemic, Sitharaman said that Centre provided direct support to farmers and rural economy post Coronavirus outbreak as part of Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Package.
“In just the last two months, Government of India has permitted State govts to utilise the SDR Fund to set up shelters and basic facilities for migrants. Rs 11,002 crore of its governmental share was advanced to all states on April 3 under SDRF,” FM Sitharaman said.
Finance Minister also said that 12,000 Self-Help groups in the country have produced over 3 crore masks and 1.2 lakh litres of sanitizers and the urban poor contributed to this in a major way. “7,200 new SHGs of urban poor have been newly formed since March 15, 2020,” she said.
Sitharaman said that the government had announced the increase in average wage rate from Rs 182 to Rs 202 under MNREGA. “We have already generated 14.62 crore man-days of work till 13th May,” she said adding that this is 40-50 per cent more than May last year.
“Work has been offered to 2.33 crore wage seekers in 1.87 lakh gram panchayats. States/UTs have been advised to provide these workers work as per provisions. The total expenditure so far has been nearly Rs 10,000 crore,” FM Sitharaman said.
Announcing sops for migrant workers who have been hit hard in this Covid-19 pandemic, Sitharaman said that government has vowed to deliver free food grains to all migrant workers for the next two months. “Free food grains supply to all migrants for the next 2 months. For non-card holders, they shall be given 5 kg wheat/rice per person and 1 kg chana per family/ month for 2 months. 8 crore migrants will benefit- Rs 3,500 crores to be spent on this,” FM announced.
M Sitharaman also announced ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ (ONORC)’ scheme, that will leverage technology and help migrants access ration under Public Distribution System (PDS) from any fair price shop across the country.
“One Nation One Ration Card will be implemented- 67 crore beneficiaries in 23 states covering 83 per cent of PDS population will be covered by national portability by August 2020,” FM Sitharaman said.
Major announcements for street vendors:
Sensing adverse impact on the livelihood of street vendors due to Coronavirus pandemic, Finance Minister Sitharaman announced Rs 5,000- crore special credit facility to benefit nearly 50 lakh such vendors. The scheme will be launched within one month, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at a press briefing.
The Minister said that Rs 10,000 loan will be given to the needy vendors, but this is not a fixed amount, and will be decided after consultation with banks. Digital payments will be incentivized through monetary rewards and enhanced working capital credit would be made available for good repayment behaviour, she said.
The Minister said the scheme will support nearly 50 lakh street vendors and will provide liquidity of Rs 5,000 crore.
Major announcements for farmers:
FM Sitharaman also announced concessional to farmers of the country as part of the second tranche of fiscal stimulus to heal an economy hit hard by coronavirus lockdown. As per the announcement, as many as 2.5 crore farmers will be provided Rs 2 lakh crore of concessional credit through Kisan Credit Cards.
Also for post-harvest (Rabi) and current Kharif crop requirements in May and June, NABARD will provide Rs 30,000 crore additional emergency working capital funding for farmers through rural cooperative banks and regional rural banks.
The slew of announcements came two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a Rs 20 lakh-crore stimulus support to boost different sectors and help farmers and poor which have been facing a tough time during the nationwide lockdown continuing for over 40 days to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The current 3.0 lockdown will end on May 17.