India to Provide Rs1.70 Lakh Crore Relief Package to Weaker Section; Doctors, Nurses, Paramedics Get Rs50 Lakh Medical Insurance Each
The Indian government on Thursday announced a relief package worth Rs1.70 lakh crore to protect weaker sections of the society from the economic fallout of corona virus (COVID-19). This package announced as part of the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana will benefit farmers, migrant workers, urban and rural poor, women, and divyang. 
Announcing the financial package, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, also said the frontline warriors like doctors, nurses, paramedics, Asha workers and cleaning workers would be provided a medial insurance worth Rs50 lakh each.
Due to the corona virus outbreak, the FM says, provident fund scheme regulations will be amended. "Workers can draw 75% of deposit or three-month wages, whichever is lower, as non-refundable advance. This will benefit 4.8 crore workers registered with Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). The union government will also pay contribution of both employer and employee (10% each) - for the next three months, so that nobody suffers due to loss of continuity in EPF. This is for all such establishments, which have less than 100 employees, out of which 90% of whom draw less than Rs15,000 rupees per month as wages or salary," she added.
One-time amount of Rs1,000 rupees will be given to senior citizens, widows and Divyang people, in two installments over the next three months, which, Ms Sitharaman says is expected to benefit three crore people. 
In addition to the 5 kg of wheat or rice, each person to get additional 5 kgs of wheat or rice per person free for the next three months, she says, adding additional 1kg of pulses to be given for each household, so that no poor person goes hungry.
"Today's measures are intended at reaching out to the poorest of the poor, with food and money in hands, so that they do not face difficulties in buying essential supplies and meeting essential needs," she says.

Under the cash transfer part, the minister said that it will largely be based on direct benefit transfer (DBT) through which farmers, migrant workers, widows, pensioners amongst others will be provided relief.

For farmers, the first instalment of the Rs6,000 per year given under PM Kisan Yojana will be given at the beginning of the year itself. So Rs2,000 will be provided into the accounts of farmers, a move that will immediately benefit 8.69 crore farmers.

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act (MNREGA) wages have also been increased from present Rs182 per day to Rs202. "As a result, we expect Rs20 per worker will be the additional income that will benefit 5 crore families," the minister said.

Ms Sitharaman also decided to provide cash into the account of three crore senior citizens to help them cope with the current crisis. Accordingly, one time amount of Rs1,000 will be provided in two instalments into their account.

Also, Ujjawala cooking gas connection holders, over eight crore women now, will get free LPG cylinders for the next three months.

The 63 lakh women Self help groups (SHGs), that benefits seven crore households, will be provided collateral free loans, under the Deen Dayal National Rural livelihood mission, of Rs20 lakh - double the existing amount of Rs10 lakh.

In yet another relief measure, the finance minister announced that the government would bear entire 24% EPF contribution of employer and employees for next three months. This support will be for employees of establishments that employ upto 100 employees and wages of 90% of their employees is less than Rs15,000 per month.

Moreover, about 3.5 crore registered building and construction workers would be provided assistance and support from the Rs31,000 crore welfare funds.

"We will be giving directions to the state governments to ensure that the fund can be utilised for helping those who are facing economic disruption as a result of this particular lockdown," the FM said.

The Centre has also requested the state governments to utilise the funds which are available under the district mineral fund for supplementing and augmenting all kinds of medical testing activities, screening activities, and also other requirements, which are so necessary now to fight the coronavirus and from preventing its spread.

While details on the financing of the package or the fiscal implication have not be provided, CARE Rating says, assuming that the entire Rs1.7 lakh crore is additional expenditure that is to be incurred over the budgeted expenditure for FY2021 (of Rs30.4 lakh crore) and the projected gross domestic product (GDP) is retained, the fiscal deficit would increase by 0.75% from the budget target of 3.5% to 4.3% of GDP.

"However, given that GDP growth for the year is expected to decline, the fiscal deficit would widen further. If this expenditure is to be met through additional market borrowings it would pressure bond market yields and thereby interest rates," the ratings agency says.

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    3 months ago

    HER term " Pensioners " includes ALL or only the weaker sections / BPL ?

    I am a senior citizen , a PSB pensioner ( not a very great pension amount )


    3 months ago



    3 months ago

    Very true. We are a country of 150 crores. The acts seem to be done as if everything / everyone is connected, literate, has a home and necessities. First the govt announces and then next day they are thinking of how to give passes to delivery agents. Is 1.7 Lac core worth the lockdown + more announced by the governor today. I am surprised by the opposition leaders too who seem to have meekly accepted without questioning the arrangements. Could it be that the hot climate here was a natural immunity to the coronavirus ? And we just over reacted. Low infection / fatality certainly cannot be credited to our healthcare?

    Friday's prayers suspended in all mosques across country
    All Muslim sects have suspended the Friday prayers in mosques and urged the faithful to follow the government decision for a complete nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus. However, the calls for prayers will continue to be made from mosques at the designated hours.
    Jamaat-e-Islami Sharia Council said in a statement: "The Friday prayers (Juma Namaz) should be observed (only by Imams, muezzins, khadims, and administrators of mosques). The prayers and the ‘khutbah' (speech) should be completed in the minimum possible period whereas the remaining public should conduct the ‘Zohar' prayer at home."
    The Shia sect's religious leaders too decided to suspended the Friday prayers across the country and asked the followers to remain indoors.
    Maulana Ashraf, Imam of Mumbai, said: "We have suspended the Friday prayers and daily prayers in mosques since last week. This arrangement will continue till the government desires as the primary objective should be to save human lives and follow the government directive. We are appealing to the people to remain indoors from mosque loudspeakers and the social media."
    Kashmir's Grand Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam said that he had also appealed for the suspension of Friday and daily prayers and it's allowed in Islam.
    The mosques in the national capital and elsewhere are only giving calls for prayers to the faithful whereas only three to five persons offer prayers on the premises while adhering to social distancing norm, said a muezzin.
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    COVID-19 Lockdown: Say yes to essentials, no to hoarding
    As the nation enters into a three-week lockdown and as per the central and the state governments' directives, essential items will be readily available. So we urge you not to refrain from hoarding so that there is plenty for everyone, and we don't fall into a self inflicted shortfall.
    Hard times teach us "what to do" in our daily lives, and also to be ready with certain items which one might need at any given emergency. Be it a virus outbreak or not, it helps to have these items in stock. So, in this season of a viral outbreak and medical emergency, keep yourself covered with these items:
    Baby Food
    Kids are the most vulnerable section of the population and have special dietary requirements. Keeping some packages or bottles of the baby food, milk, powdered milk, and healthy drinks will ensure your little ones are taken care of. Also easy to make items like pasta, fires and healthier options like cereal are handy.
    Household items
    In these testing times, all we need is the basics. Items like soaps, dish washing soap, handwash, toothpaste, sanitary napkins, adult and baby diapers and hygiene products are essential.
    Food items
    Our health mainly resides in the kitchen. It is the perfect time to have handy non-perishable items like grains, rice, quinoa, pulses, lentils, nuts including pistachios and cashews. Loaded with nutrients to boost energy and improve immunity, coupled with a longer shelf life, these food items will be a great boon.
    Safe drinking water is essential, and it is imperative to stock up on that. Some experts suggest at least two-week drinking water at disposal is important all year round.
    It is a practical idea to have your prescriptions, over the counter, basic medicine at home at this time. This becomes imperative if you are currently on medication, have an infant or a senior citizen at home, or someone with illness.
    Pet supplies
    If we are bracing ourselves to fight the tough times, we can't afford to leave are furry friends behind. Ensure that you have sufficient pet food, litter and supplies in place.
    Fitness essentials
    To keep your immunity up and to fight the testing times, why compromise on fitness. Stock up on free-weights and resistance training items like dumbbells, resistance bands, jumping rope and yoga mats.
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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