In her second press conference in as many days, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday unveiled an economic package to help alleviate the distress for small farmers, migrant workers, small traders and self-employed people under the “Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant)” campaign announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Moreover, migrant workers who do not have either central or state PDS cards would be given free food grain supply for next two months at a cost of Rs 3,500 crore, Sitharaman said. Sitharaman also announced an affordable rental housing scheme for migrant workers besides a Rs 5000 crore special credit facility for nearly 50 lakh street vendors even as Covid-19 push the nationwide tally closer to the 80,000 mark. The death toll crossed 2,500, while more than 26,000 have recovered so far.
Sitharaman on migrant workers, urban poor
👉 Maintaining that the government was conscious of the plight of migrant workers, Sitharaman said the Centre would spend Rs 3,500 crore on giving free food gain to eight crore migrant workers who do not have either central or state PDS cards.
“For non-card holders, they shall be given 5 kg wheat/rice per person and 1 kg chana per family/month for 2 months. PDS ration cards to be made portable to allow migrant workers to use ration cards across states,” she said.
👉 Besides, Sitharaman also announced the implementation of “One Nation One Ration Card” benefiting 67 crore people in 23 states covering 83 per cent of PDS population. “They will be covered by national portability by August 2020,” Sitharaman said.
👉 The Finance Minister also unveiled the contours of a scheme for affordable rental housing for migrant workers to provide ease of living by converting government-funded housing in cities into Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) under PPP mode through concessionaire .
👉 Maintaining that the government was conscious of the plight of migrant workers, Sitharaman said states had been permitted to utilise SDRF for setting up shelter for migrants and providing them food and water.
“We are conscious, we are attending to the migrants and giving them in various different ways,” Nirmala Sitharaman said. The Finance Minister also said 7,200 new self-help groups (SHGs) for urban poor had been formed during the last two months.
Sitharaman on farmers, tribals
👉 Underlining that there has been a focus on rural economy and farmers since March-April in providing liquidity, Sitharaman said interest subvention and prompt repayment incentive on crop loans due from March 1 had been extended to May 31.
“Today’s initiatives focuses on migrant workers, street vendors, small traders, the self-employed and small farmers. Three crore marginal farmers have already availed Rs 4 lakh crore of loans on concessional rates,” Sitharaman said.
👉 Besides, Sitharaman said NABARD would extend additional re-finance support of Rs 30,000 crore for crop loan requirement of Rural Co-operative banks and Regional Rural Banks. “This will help in post-harvest Rabi work and benefit 3 crore farmers,” she said.
👉 For farmers not possessing a Kisan Credit Card, the Finance Minister said Rs 2 lakh crore concessional credit for 2.5 crore farmers (fishermen, animal husbandry farmers included) would be extended.
👉 To create job opportunities for tribals /adivasis, plans worth Rs 6,000 crore to be approved shortly under Compensatory Afforestation Management & Planning Authority (CAMPA) Funds, Sitharaman said.
Sitharaman on middle income group
👉 For middle income group with Rs 6 lakh to Rs 18 lakh annual income, Sitharaman announced an extension of the affordable housing scheme till March 2021.
“For middle income group with Rs 6 lakh to Rs 18 lakh annual income. Credit linked subsidy scheme for affordable housing extended till March 2021. Another 2.5 lakh families will benefit. Expected to give a Rs 70,000 crore boost to housing,” Sitharaman said.
Sitharaman on MNREGA, rural economy
👉 In what signals the huge pent up demand and stress in rural India, Sitharaman said 2.33 crore wage seekers in 1,87 lakh gram panchayats had been enrolled under MGNREGA.
“Rs 10,000 crore under MNREGA spent in just 43 days. We have already generated 14.62 crore person-days of work till May 13, which is 40-50% more persons enrolled as compared to last May. Migrant workers going back to their states being actively enrolled,” she said.
👉 Sitharaman also announced a 2 per cent interest subvention on the smallest category of loans given under the MUDRA scheme. “As much as Rs 1,500 crore interest subvention would be given for MUDRA-Shishu loans of up to Rs 50,000,” she said.
The main thrust of Wednesday’s announcements was relief to Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) in the form of credit guarantees to them. Sitharaman’s announcements followed up on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address on Tuesday regarding a Rs 20-lakh-crore economic stimulus, almost 10 per cent of the GDP, to cushion the impact of Covid-19 and to be unveiled in a staggered manner.
Besides MSMEs, the 16 announcements in the first tranche cut across sectors that range from Non Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs) to real estate and power distribution and the salaried, with the overarching theme being of liquidity infusion in an economy that has been battered by weeks-long lockdown to curb the spread of novel coronavirus.
Apart from Sitharaman’s nearly Rs 6 lakh crore worth of measures announced on Wednesday and the fiscal package of Rs 1.7 lakh crore in March, the Reserve Bank of India has announced monetary stimulus measures totaling Rs 8.1 lakh crore.