The government has provided an additional allocation of Rs 4,800 crore the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) and the enhanced the target of beneficiaries under scheme to eight crore from five crore, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan said on Thursday.
Pradhan said nearly 80 per cent of the beneficiaries availing the Ujjwala scheme refilled their LPG cylinders, with their average family consumption being 4.07 cylinders per year. Against the overall annual consumption per family at 7 cylinders per year, the usage rate for Ujjwala beneficiaries is encouraging, the minister said. Nearly 44 per cent of the beneficiaries under the scheme belong to Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe (SC/ST), he said.
Speaking at the same conference, Minister of State for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Giriraj Singh said that the Cabinet’s decision to now define MSMEs on the basis of annual turnover as opposed to quantum of investment in plant and machinery, “will free the MSMEs from the Inspector Raj.”
The government has also expanded the scope of the scheme to cover all the eligible beneficiaries across the country. While earlier the Ujjwala beneficiaries were being chosen from the Socio Economic Caste Survey (SECC) 2011 list, this left out those poor households which were not part of the Survey.
In addition to SECC identified households, the government has approved to expand the Scheme to cover all SC/ST households, beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin), Antyoday Anna Yojana, forest dwellers, most backward classes, Tea and Ex-Tea Garden Tribes, people residing in Islands and rivers, Pradhan said. The revised target of 8 crore will be achieved by 2020, he said. “Under the PMUY, the original target was to release 3 crore connections by the end of FY 2017-18, but as a result of efficient scheme implementation and monitoring, more than 3.35 crore connections have been released. In all, more than 4.65 crore applications have been received,” the government said in a separate statement.
Under PMUY, announced in May 2016, cash assistance is given to the beneficiaries to get a deposit-free new LPG connection. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has in the budget announced the government’s decision to raise the target of Ujjwala beneficiaries.
“We launched Prime Minister’s Ujjwala Scheme to make poor women free from the smoke of wood. Initially our target was to provide free LPG connections to about 5 crore poor women. But in view of the pace of implementation of Ujjwala scheme and its popularity among the women, we propose to increase the target of providing free connection to 8 crore poor women,” Jaitley said in the budget speech last week.
On the change in definition for MSMEs, Singh said the decision would improve the Ease of Doing Business for such companies and encourage them to come into the formal sector. The RBI decision to give MSMEs 180 day window to clear their dues, as against the earlier 90-day period after which unpaid loans were classified as Non Performing Assets, would also ease the burden on MSMEs, he said. There are a total of about Rs 80,000 crore worth of stressed loans in the MSME sector, Arun Kumar Panda, Secretary in the MSME ministry said.
As per the Cabinet decision approved on Wednesday, a firm with annual turnover of less than Rs 5 crore has been classified as micro enterprise, while turnover between Rs 5-75 crore is to be termed as a small enterprise. Any entity declaring a turnover between Rs 75-250 crore will be termed as a medium enterprise. In the Union Budget 2018-19, the government has announced to cut the corporate tax rate for companies with turnover up to Rs 250 crore by 5 per cent to 25 per cent.