New Delhi, March 26, 2020: Finance Minister Nirmana Sitharaman on Thursday unveiled a Rs 1.7 lakh-crore fiscal stimulus package to help the poor and migrants tackle the financial difficulties arising from the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and the 21-day nationwide lockdown that began the previous day. Announcing the relief package under PM Gareeb Kalyan Scheme, the finance minister said, "No one will go hungry", stating that the immediate focus is on alleviating the hardships of the migrant workers, urban and rural poor. The relief measures included direct cash transfers (under the DBT or Direct Benefit Transfer scheme) and food security-related steps aimed at giving relief to the poor workers hit by the countrywide lockdown.
Finance Minister’s 10 big announcements:
1.The Finance Minister announced a medical insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh per person for those on the frontline of the fight against the deadly coronavirus outbreak, including doctors, nurses and sanitation workers.
2.Direct cash transfers for eight categories of beneficiaries, including pensioners, women and the specially-abled was also announced as part of the relief package.
3. Farmers will get the first instalment of Rs 2,000 under the Kisan Samman Nidhi in the first week of April.
4. The government increased the wages under the MNREGA scheme from the existing Rs 182 to Rs 202.
5. The Finance Minister said women holding bank accounts under the financial inclusion scheme Jan Dhan will get an ex-gratia amount of Rs 500 per month for next three months.
6. The government announced the supply of five kilograms of either rice or wheat and one kilogram of lentil of choice free of cost to poor households every month for a period of three months, in addition to the existing five kilograms of wheat/rice announced earlier.
7. The government also announced collateral-free loans worth up to Rs 10 lakh for women self-help groups under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya National Rural Mission scheme.
8. It also doubled the limit applicable to the existing scheme to Rs 20 lakh.
9. The government made two announcements for the organised sector. The Centre said it will pay EPF contribution on behalf of both the employee and the employer for a period of three months for certain small companies. The government said companies with up to 100 employees in which 90 per cent of the staff is paid less than Rs 15,000 per month will be entitled to receive this benefit.
10. It will also permit withdrawals of up to 75 per cent of non-refundable advance or three months of wages from the EPF account, whichever is lower, a move likely to benefit 4.8 crore subscribers.