Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said announced a Rs 3.16 trillion package of free foodgrains for migrant workers, concessional credit to farmers and working capital loan for street vendors as part of the second tranche of fiscal stimulus to heal an economy hit hard by coronavirus lockdown.
At a news conference, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said 8 crore migrant workers will get 5 kgs of grains and 1 kg of pulses free for two months, while 50 lakh street vendors rendered jobless by the lockdown would be given a working capital loan of Rs 10,000 each.
The Central government has also asked states to use the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to set up shelters and provide food and water to the urban poor, including migrant labourers. Rs 11,000 crore was sent for this purpose, said Sitharaman.
National Portability Ration Cards can be used in any ration shops that will be applicable across the country. By Auguist 2020, 67 cr beneficiaries in 23 states or 83 per cent of all PDS beneficiaries will get covered. By March 2021, 100 per cent will be covered, she said.
The government will spend Rs 3500($463.06 million) on food for nearly 80 million migrant workers for the next two months, Sitharaman told a news conference.
For farmers, FM announced a Rs 30,000-crore additional emergency working capital funding through the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). As many as 2.5 crore farmers will be provided Rs 2 trillion of concessional credit through Kisan Credit Cards.3 crore marginal farmers have already availed Rs 4 lakh crore of loans on concessional rates, she said.
Government will provide free foodgrains to millions of migrant workers hardest hit by a weekslong lockdown and offer employment under a rural jobs programme, she said.
Sitharaman announced a Rs 70,000-crore boost to housing sector by extending the subsidy scheme for affordable housing for the middle income group.
The credit-linked subsidy scheme for the middle income group with an annual income of Rs 6 lakh to Rs 18 lakh was operationalised from May 2017 and extended up to March 2020.. She said the scheme is being extended by one year to benefit 2.5 lakh middle income families.
She also announced a Rs 5,000-crore special credit facility for street vendors by providing them with working capital of up to Rs 10,000, she said adding this would support 50 lakh street vendors.The scheme will be launched within one month.The Minister said that Rs 10,000 loan will be given to the needy vendors, but this is not a fixed amount, and will be decided after consultation with banks. Digital payments will be incentivized through monetary rewards and enhanced working capital credit would be made available for good repayment behaviour, she said.
Addressing a press conference, Sitharaman said, "Work under the MGNREGA has been provided to 2.33 crore wagers in 1.87 lakh panchayats to benefit migrant workers, who are being actively enrolled."
The government had generated 14.62 crore persondays of work till May 13, which was 40-50 per cent more compared with May 2019. "This is to help migrant labourers find work who have returned to their home states," she said.
The Centre will launch a scheme under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana for migrant labour and the urban poor to build affordable rental housing facilities for them.
Sitharaman said that under the scheme, government-funded housing in different cities will be converted into affordable rental housing complexes under the public-private partnership mode.Further, the government will also incentivise manufacturing units, industries, institutions, associations to develop affordable rental housing complexes on their private land and operate them
Sitharaman on Wednesday had announced measures of nearly Rs 5.94 trillion to provide relief to small businesses; taxpayers; shadow banks; power distribution companies; real estate; organised sector employees; and contractors working with the government.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Tuesday announced a cumulative package of Rs 20 lakh crore (nearly 10 per cent of GDP) to provide relief to various segments of the economy. This included Rs 1.7 lakh crore package comprising of free foodgrains and cash to poor for three months announced in March, and Rs 5.6 lakh crore stimulus provided through various monetary policy measures by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)
The remaining of the Rs 20 lakh crore package is being announced in tranches — Sitharman had in the first tranche on Wednesday unveiled a Rs 5.94 lakh crore plan that mostly comprises off-budget items such as Rs 3 lakh crore of credit line to small businesses as support to shadow banks and electricity distributors
Off-budget items do not result in any outgo from the government exchequer but these will aid in easing liquidity constrains for businesses once the lockdown is lifted.