To tide over the immense impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on those who are financially vulnerable, Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, today announced an economic security relief package worth ₹1.7 lakh crore. She also announced some other measures, in the press conference, to deal with the economic suffering caused due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
According to some reports, this package will be focused on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in addition to daily wage workers in the market.
The government has taken the decision with the consultation with the Reserve bank of India, capital market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India. The Finance Minister said, “To help small companies facing the threat of defaults due to coronavirus-related lockdown, the government raised the threshold that would trigger insolvency proceedings to Rs 1 crore from current Rs 1 lakh. This raising of the threshold will help small and medium enterprises”.
She also stated, “PM Gareeb Kalyan Scheme will entail ₹1.7 lakh crore, which will include both cash transfer and food security. Provide insurance cover worth ₹50 lakh for sanitation workers, ASHA workers, doctors, nurses, paramedics in case they need it as they are on the frontlines of the corona battle. Over and above 5kg of rice/wheat that is already given, another 5 kg per person will be given free to around 80 crore people through PDS. Besides, one kg of preferred and region-specific choice of pulse will also be given.”
This was the finance minister’s second address to the media within a matter of a week. The packages are aimed at people who are in extreme need of food, money and cooking gas and will be implemented right away.
She also added, “Workers’ welfare fund of ₹31,000 crores to be utilised for construction workers. We plan to direct state governments to help 3.5 crore construction workers to this end. This will benefit 4.8 crore workers — The PF scheme regulations will be amended because of coronavirus to allow employees to draw non-refundable advance of 75% of the amount standing to credit or 3 months wages, whichever is lower.”
The Finance Minister also said that under the National Rural Livelihood Mission scheme, collateral loans will be doubled to ₹20 lakh for women. Talking about more measures aimed at women, the Finance Minister stated that, “Ujjwala Scheme women will be given free cylinders for the next 3 months. This will benefit 8.3 crore BPL families. Women Jan Dhan account holders will receive ₹500 in their accounts so that they can take care of their households. This will happen for the next 3 months.”
Talking about measures to protect farmers, she said that, “8.69 crore farmers will be immediately benefited through Direct cash transfers. Instalment of ₹2000 in the first week of April will be transferred and ₹2,000 to be transferred to immediately in first week of April to farmers. No one will go hungry.”
Also, the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, had announced, in his speech on March 19, an economic ‘Task Force’ to be led by the Finance Minister. The finance ministry and the RBI have taken some steps to make sure that liquidity in the system remains undamaged.