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Coronavirus pandemic: FM Sitharaman announces Rs 1.7 lk cr relief under PM Garib Kalyan Scheme

Under the Rs 1.70 lakh crore scheme, cash transfers will be made to poor and migrant workers.

March 26, 2020 / 10:43 PM IST

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on March 26, announced the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Scheme to help the poor during the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the Rs 1.70 lakh crore scheme, cash transfers will be made to poor and migrant workers.

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, migrant workers in major cities have been struggling to obtain essential supplies since the 21-day lockdown began. Several of them are also at risk of losing their income and jobs.

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"A package is ready for the poor who need immediate help like migrant workers and urban and rural poor. No one will go hungry. The package is worth Rs 1.7 lakh crore," Sitharaman said in a press briefing.

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However, the government didn't provide a detailed breakup of how the package would be funded.

Under the package, the government would front-load Rs 2,000 paid to farmers in first week of April through direct cash transfer, under the existing PM Kisan Yojana scheme. The front loading of expenditure is expected to benefit 8.7 crore farmers.

An ex-gratia of Rs 1,000 would be paid in two installments to poor senior citizens, widows and the disabled, over the next three months.

"This will benefit 3 crore poor senior citizens, widows and disabled," she said.

Women Jan Dhan account holder would get Rs 500 per month for next three months to help them run their households, she said.

The government also announced doubling of  collateral-free loans to Rs 20 lakh for women self-help groups. The move is expected to benefit 7 crore households.

Sitharaman said there will be medical insurance of Rs 50 lakh per person for paramedics, ASHA workers and doctors.

"There will be Rs 50 lakh insurance per health care worker as a medical insurance cover for three months. Hopefully, we would be able to contain the virus in this period," she said.

For workers under Mahatma Gandhi Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), Sitharaman announced increasing the wage to Rs 202 a day from Rs 182.

"This will result in Rs 2,000 additional income per worker," Sitharaman said.

Beneficiaries of the Ujjwala Yojna would be getting free LPG cylinders for next three months, Sitharaman said.

Sitharaman announced that EPF contribution of both employer and employee (24 percent in total) would be paid by the government for the next three months. The move is aimed to provide relief to organised sector workers.

"This will be for all those establishments with up to 100 employees and 90 percent of whom are earning less than Rs 15,000 a month. About 4.8 crore EPF members will benefit from this," Sitharaman said.

The government also announced that it would amend the regulation of Employees Provident Fund (EPF) so that workers can draw upto 75 percent non-refundable advance from their provident fund account or three months salary, whichever is lower.

She also directed states to use the District Mineral Fund for supplementing and augmenting medical testing and screening of coronavirus.

Sitharaman said that states have also been asked to use the corpus of Welfare Fund for Building and Other Constructions Workers to support workers.

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first published: Mar 26, 2020 01:35 pm