The Centre announced a Rs 1.70 lakh crore welfare package on Thursday for the country’s 80 crore poor to face economic challenges arising from the novel coronavirus outbreak and promised to gradually unveil more measures that may include a freeze on repayment of loan installments by individuals and companies.
Under the measures announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, five kg of additional rice and wheat and one kg of pulses would be provided to the country’s 80 crore poor people. This is over and above the five kg of rice and wheat that they have been currently receiving from the government under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana.
To benefit the country’s 8.7 crore farmers, Rs 6,000 per year cash benefit has been announced, which will be front-loaded, implying that Rs 2,000 will be transferred to each farmer’s account immediately.
Similarly, the daily wages of MGNREGA workers will be revised upward to Rs 202 per day per worker from Rs 182 currently.
People over 60 years of age, widows and divyang will get one-time ex-gratia of Rs 1,000 in the next three months in two installments. This will benefit three crore people.
About 20 crore women Jan Dhan account holders will get an ex-gratia of Rs 500 per month for the next three months to fight the COVID-19 outbreak.
States have been asked to utilise the Rs 31,000 crore Central Government fund for construction workers to take care of their daily needs.
States have also been asked to use the money in the district mineral fund in medical screening and medical testing of COVID-19 patients.
The measures that are announced will take care of farmers, migrant workers, women and disadvantaged sectors, who can get tangible relief for a period of three months to June 30.
For organised sector employees, the government announced that it would soon amend the regulation of employees' Provident Fund so that workers can draw upto 75% non-refundable advance from the credit in their PF account or three months salary, whichever is lower.