Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today held a press conference and announced a financial package which would take care of the welfare concerns of the poor and the suffering migrant workers after the 21-day lockdown has been announced to arrest the spread of Wuhan Coronavirus. The package was called ‘Prime Minister Gareeb Kalyan Yojana and totalled a whopping 1.70 lakh crores. The Finance Minister said that one side of the scheme would focus on cash transfers through DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer) and the other would focus on food security as the government does not want anyone to remain hungry.
Insurance cover for frontline workers like medical staff
Nirmala Sitharaman announced that in the next three months, medical staff and doctors who are exposing themselves to Coronavirus patients would get an Insurance Cover. The Government of India announced a medical insurance cover of Rs 50,00,000 per person. This would include everyone working in the frontline including sanitation workers, ASHA workers, paramedical staff etc including medical staff and doctors.
Food related package
Finance Minister today announced the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Anna Yojana in which 80 crore poor people, which is 2/3rd of our population, will get 5 Kgs of wheat or rice per month for the next 3 months will be provided for free to each person in addition to the 5 Kg of rice or wheat they already get. They will also get 1 Kg of pulse (whichever pulse is preferred regionally) for each household. This is being done so no poor person remains without food while the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic is ongoing. They can also claim this benefit in installments in they so choose.
Under the Cash Transfers there were 8 specific announcements that were made.
They already receive Rs 6,000 annually through the PM Kisan Yojana. Now, the first instalment of that will be given at the beginning of the year. This will benefit 8.69 crore farmers. This instalment is of Rs 2000 which will be given to the farmers before April 2020.
The government of India announced a wage increase for MNREGA workers. This will benefit 5 crore families, the FM said. The wage rate increase will accrue at Rs 2,000 per worker as the rate is being increased from Rs 182 to Rs 202.
Widows, pensioners (over 60 years of age) and Divyangs
A one time Ex Gratia amount of Rs 1,000 which shall be given in two instalments over the next 3 months was announced by the Finance Minister. This is expected to benefit 3 crore poor senior citizens, poor widows and the poor people among the Divyangs. This amount would be directly transferred through DBT.
Women who have Jan Dhan Yojana
There are 20 crore women Jan Dhan Account holders. They will be getting an ex-gratia amount of Rs 500 per month for the next three months so they will be able to run the affairs of their household during this period of disruption.
Households who get benefit under Ujjwala Scheme
Nearly 8.3 crore BPL families who get benefit through Ujjwala Scheme, will get free cooking cylinders for the next three months.
Self help women who are dealing with Livelihood missions
This announcement will have an impact 7 crore households, FM said. FM said that currently, under the Deen Dayal Upadhyay National Livelihood mission, they get up to Rs 10,00,000 collateral free loans. The FM said that now that amount will be doubled to Rs 20,00,000.
Organised Sector workers (EPFO)
Provident Fund: The government of India will pay the EPF contribution both of the employer and the employee (12% each = 24%) for the next three months so that nobody suffers because the EPF contribution might have lost its continuity. This is for all those establishments which have up to 100 employees and 90% of whom are such employees who earn less than Rs 15,000 per month.
Money in hand: The FM said that the Provident Fund Scheme Regulations will be amended to allow non-refundable advance of 75% of the amount standing to the credit of the member or three months wages, whichever is lower. This will benefit 4.8 crore workers who are registered with EPF.
By a central government act, there is a welfare fund that benefits building and other construction workers. It has about 31,000 crores and 3.5 crores registered workers. The Govt of India intends to give direction to state governments to utilise this fund to assist those construction workers who are feeling the economic impact of the lockdown. Using this welfare fund, the registered 3.5 crores workers can benefit from it through state governments.
District Mineral Fund
The Finance Minister requested the state governments to use the funds available under the District Mineral Fund for supplementing medical testing activity, screening activity and other requirements that are necessary to fight the Coronavirus spread.
The full press conference can be viewed here: