Nirmala Sitharaman announces relief package of Rs 1,70,000 crore for poor and daily wage workers via cash transfer and food subsidy amid lockdown.

Poor relief package will include giving wheat/rice along with fixed amount of dals over a period of three months to ensure no one dies of hunger during the ongoing coronavirus crisis. The packages comes on the second day of the 21-day lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Finance Minister shared a detailed a bailout package for poor to ensure ‘no one goes hungry.’.

Nirmala Sitharaman is heading a task force evaluating the financial impact of the outbreak. The minister said that the measures announced today will come into effect immediately.

Below are highlights of her statements.

  1. Five kilos of cereal for each poor household
  2. One kilo of dal for each household
  3. This will be for a period of at least three months
  4. We will now give the funds from the Kisan Vidhi scheme front loaded so people will have access right away. This will benefit 8.69 crore farmer immediately.
  5. Direct cash transfer to take place in first week of April.
  6. Wage increase in MNREGA. This will benefit 5 crore families. Wage rate increase will result in 2000 rupees per worker per year.
  7. Rs 50 lakh insurance cover for frontline workers. “With a deep sense of gratitude, I announce that all medical staff, Aasha workers, paramedics, doctors and nurses, will get this insurance,” Sitharaman said, mentioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reference to them as “Gods in white”.
  8. We have planned 500 rupees per month for women who hold Jan Dhan accounts. In times of coronavirus, we will ensure the 3.5 crore women will get 1500 over the next three months.
  9. Ujjwala scheme: For those under this scheme, nearly 8 crore BPL families, they now have gas cylinders. So that women don’t run short of gas, for the next three months, they will get free cylinders.
  10. Govt of India will pay the EPF contribution for employer and the employee (12% each, so 24% total) for the next three months for those establishments that have upto a 100 employees (and 90% of the employees draw less than 15000 rupees a month)
  11. Provident fund scheme regulations will be amended to allow non refundable advance of 75% of the amount of a member or three months of wages, which ever is lower.
  12. Rs 1000 rupees per month for senior citizens.
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