Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a Rs 1.7 lakh crore relief package for the poor and migrant workers to tackle the impact the coronavirus pandemic. The relief package has been named as Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana. Under the scheme, cash transfer to be made through direct benefit transfer. Eight categories will be given the benefit. “There will be Rs 50 lakh insurance per healthcare worker as a medical insurance cover for them for three months. Hopefully, we would be able to contain the virus in this period,” Sitharaman said. For next three months, 80 crore poor people will be covered under the scheme. This is roughly 2/3rd of India’s population. In addition to already allotted 5Kg of rice/wheat per person, an additional 5kg will also be distributed. Additional 1 kg pulse will be given, the Finance Minister announced. 8.69 crore farmers to be immediately benefited through Direct cash transfers. Instalment of Rs 2000 in the first week of April will be transferred, Sitharaman said. (Coronavirus Outbreak Live Updates)
Wage increase in MGNREGA will benefit 5 crore families, Sitharaman said. Under the category of old age, divyang, pensioners, three crore people will be covered, one-time amount of additional Rs 1,000 in two installments via DBT to be given for three months. According to official data, the government has total 58.49 million tonnes of foodgrains in the Food Corporation of India (FCI) godowns so far. Out of which, rice is 30.97 million tonnes and wheat 27.52 million tonne. The foodgrains stock is much higher than the required norm of maintaining a reserve of about 21 million tonnes as on April 1.
Earlier on March 24, Sitharaman had announced a slew of measures for the urban population. It included the extension of ITR deadline. The last date of filing the income tax returns for the Financial Year 18-19 was extended till June 30th. Other extensions included PAN-Aadhaar linking, GST returns and Composition returns. The last date for all these was extended till June 30th. Other measures included, the mandatory requirement of holding board meetings is being relaxed by a period of 60 days, this relaxation were for the next two quarters. To ease the cash crunch for the common man, the Finance Minister had announced that, ‘debit cardholders who withdraw cash from any bank’s ATM can do it free of charge for the next 3 months.’ She had also said that there shall not be any minimum balance requirement fee (in bank accounts). Every attention is being given to the economy, Prime Minister is monitoring situation himself, Sitharaman asserted. “Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code default limit has been increased from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1 crore,” her deputy Anurag Thakur announced.