In a slew of economic measures taken due to the 21-day lockdown in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday announced direct cash transfers for over 8.5 crore farmers and a daily wage increase of Rs 20 per MGNREGA worker on an average to ease the distress.
Sitharaman said the government would transfer Rs 2,000 into the accounts of farmers under the PM KISAN scheme in the first week of April. This would cover 8.7 crore farmers and Rs 16,000 crore would be distributed to them. Under the scheme, the government provides a minimum income support of Rs 6,000 per year to farmers in three installments.
The Finance Minister also announced an increase in MGNREGA wages from Rs 182 per day to Rs 202 per day with effect from April 1. While the wage hike works to almost 11 per cent, Sitharaman said it would benefit approximately 13.62 crore families and the government would spend around Rs 5,600 crore for this purpose.
She also announced an ex-gratia transfer of Rs 500 into each of the 20 crore women Jan Dhan account holders for next three months. While this is aimed at helping the women run their household during this difficult period, the Finance Minister said the government would spend Rs 31,000 crore for this purpose.
“Twenty crore Jan Dhan women account holders have also been covered: An ex-gratia amount of Rs 500 per month for the next three months will be given,” she added.
To ensure that BPL families do not run short of cooking mediums, the Union minister announced free cylinders for three months to nearly 8.3 crore families under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.
“Self-help women groups (7 crore houses holds covered) have been taken care of while collateral-free loans have been doubled to Rs 20 lakh, to increase the amount of money in hand,” Sitharaman said.
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