Nirmala Sitharaman
Nirmala Sitharaman

FM announces Rs 1.7 lakh cr corona relief package for poor


Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday announced a slew of measures under a Rs 1.7 lakh crore package to deal with the economic crisis as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the 21-day lockdown till April 14.

Under the Prime Minister Gareeb Kalyan Yojana (food scheme), 80 crore people were to be benefitted, she said. All under this scheme would get 5 kg of wheat/rice for free in addition to what they are already getting. Besides, each household would get 1 kg of pulse for the next three months.

Medical insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh per health worker for three months is also part of the scheme. Wages under the MNREGA scheme have been hiked and should benefit 5 crore families. This would result in additional income of Rs 2,000 per worker, she added.

Under the PM-Kisan scheme, farmers expected to receive Rs 6,000 per annum would now get the first instalment upfront.

The Centre would pay the EPF0 contribution of 12 per cent each of the employer and the employee of firms with over 100 employees for the next three months, the Finance Minister said.

Women Jan Dhan account holders would now get Rs 500 per month for the next three months. This would benefit the 63 lakh self-help groups for women. The up to Rs 10 lakh collateral-free loans right was now being doubled.

The 8.3 crore families below the poverty line would get free cylinders for the next three months under the Ujwala scheme.

She said State Governments would be directed under Buildings and Other Construction Workers’ Fund to utilise the existing Rs 31,000 crore welfare fund for benefit of 3.5 crore construction workers. The District Mineral Fund would be used to augment medical testing, screening and other requirements to fight coronavirus and check its spread.

Thursday's package comes after her announcement of a few measures on Tuesday which included extension of tax deadlines, easing minimum balance norms for savings accounts and raising the threshold of insolvency filing to Rs 1 crore from Rs 1 lakh.