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FM Nirmala Sitharaman announces Rs 1.7 lakh crore assistance package for poor people

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced to provide a measures to deal with the economic distress caused due to the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown announced to deal with the situation.

The finance minister had already announced some measures on Tuesday that included extension of tax deadlines, easing minimum balance norms for savings account, and increasing threshold of insolvency filing to Rs 1 crore from Rs 1 lakh.

PM Gareeb Kalyan Scheme will entail Rs 1.7 lakh crore.

Finance minister said in announcement that “It will include both cash transfer and food security. Provide insurance cover worth Rs 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.

For Farmers first instalment of Rs 2,000 of Pradhan Mantari Kisan will be given in first week of April. 8.69 cr farmers will get immediate benefit out of it.

For MNREGA there will be Increase in wage rate from Rs 182 to Rs 202 amounting to increase of Rs 2000 per worker leading to benefitting 5 crore people.

For Old age and widows an ex-gratia amount of Rs 1,000 for next three months available in two instalments. It will benefit 3 crore widows and senior citizens.

Women Jan Dhan account holders will get Ex gratia of Rs 500 per month for next three months. This will benefit 20 crore women.

Women Ujjawala sheme beneficiaries will get three months, free cylinders. Will benefit 8.3 crore BPL families.

Women Self Help Groups Under the Deen Dayal National Livelihood Mission, collateral free loan will be given up to Rs 20 lakh from Rs 10 lakh earlier. Impact on 7 crore holders through 63 lakh SHGs.

For Organised sector Government of India will pay the EPF contribution both of the employer and the employee put together 24% for next three months. This is for those establishments with up to 100 employees, 90% of them earning less than Rs 15,000.

For organised sector, EPFO regulation will be amended so that workers can draw up to 75% for their contingency expenditure non-refundable advance or three months of wages in advance whichever is less. This will benefit 4.8 cr workers.

Construction workers will get State government have been directed to use the welfare fund for building & construction labourers which has around Rs 31,000 crore to help those who are facing economic disruption because of the lockdown.

Utilise the funds available under the district mineral fund for testing activities, medical screening, providing health attention needed to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

It is expected that another relief package for the industry will come up soon. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) lobby group, had sought a stimulus of about 1% of the GDP or Rs 2 lakh crore, has sought a three-month moratorium on all loans and said all repayment obligations should be suspended for this period.

The Prime Minister had announced an Economic Task Force to be chaired by the finance minister.

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