The government announces Rs 1.7 lakh crore package for the poor

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the Rs 1.7 lakh-crore scheme, dubbed as the Prime Minister Gareeb Kalyan scheme, will address the concerns of poor, migrant workers, pensioners, women and the specially-abled

Gaon Connection
| Updated: March 26th, 2020

There were many reports, stories and videos doing the round showing that the poor and the migrant workers were the worst hit after Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a 21-day total lockdown in the country on March 24.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who is heading the task force evaluating the financial fallout of this outbreak and chart out the course ahead, outlined a bailout package for the people and the industry on Thursday, March 26. The bailout package is divided under eight heads that covered all sections of society, including pensioners, women and the specially-abled. She announced a food security scheme to help the economically weaker sections to tide over the added challenge of lockdown and job loss during the worldwide outbreak of Coronavirus. There are many cash components as well.

The Rs 1,70,000-crore scheme, dubbed the Prime Minister Gareeb Kalyan scheme, will address the concerns of poor, migrant workers and those who need help. The government has announced a special Rs 50 lakh medical insurance cover to the frontline workers toiling to contain the crisis. These include doctors and their support staff.

The poor and the needy will get 5 kg additional wheat and rice free of cost for the next there months over and above what they are entitled under the National Food Security Act. They will also get 1 kg pulses free for the next three months.

The Women Jan Dhan account holders will get ex-gratia of Rs 500 per month for the next three months. This will benefit over 20 crore women who have Jan Dhan accounts. The government has increased the wage under the rural job guarantee programme MGNREGA to Rs 202 from Rs 182. This move is likely to benefit five crore workers. Across the country, three crore widows, pensioners and the specially-abled would receive a one-time ex-gratia payment of Rs 1,000.

For the farmers, she said the government would release the first tranche of their yearly payment of Rs 6,000. Nearly 8.3 crore families who are below the poverty line will get free cooking gas cylinders for the next three months. Those under the women self-help groups under the Deen Dayal Yojana who are eligible for collateral-free loans of up to Rs 10 lakh can now get Rs 20 lakh.

For the organised sector, the minister announced a hike in provident funds and withdrawal limits. The centre will pay the PF for both the employee and employer for the next three months for firms that have up to 100 employees and 90 per cent of the employees earn less than Rs 15,000 per month. These employees would be able to get a non-refundable advance to 75 per cent from the fund or three months’ wages — whichever is less — from their EPFO.