Covid-19: Modi government announces Rs 1.7 lakh crore welfare package

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Thursday.

The Narendra Modi government on Thursday announced a Rs 1,70,000 crore package to put money in the hands of the most vulnerable sections of the society as it looks to fight the fallout of the new coronavirus outbreak that is expected to shave of nearly 5% of the gross domestic product. The package will benefit the people suffering due to the impact of the lockdown to counter the new coronavirus outbreak.

The package under Pradhanmantri Garib Kalyan Yojana announced by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman will benefit the poorest and the most vulnerable sections such as migrant workers, farmers, women and construction workers in the form of cash transfers and food security relief.

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Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman address a Press Conference

The 21-day national lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to arrest the spread of Covid-19 could result in a ₹35,000-40,000 crore daily loss, amounting to Rs 6.3-7.2 lakh crore, according to an estimate by Care Ratings.

The finance minister along with minister of state Anurag Singh Thakur announced Rs 50,00,000 insurance cover for each of the frontline workers fighting coronavirus outbreak such as medical workers, paramedics, Asha workers, and sanitary workers for the next three months.

Under the Garb Kalyan Anna Yojana, 80 crore people will get 5 kg rice/wheat per person free of cost in the next three months over and above the 5 kg they are already entitled for. Each household will also get 1 kg pulses.

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The government will release the first instalment of the PM-KISAN yojana payment of Rs 6,000 in the first week of April. An amount of Rs 2,000 will be directly transferred to the accounts of 8.69 crore beneficiaries. At least 5 crore families will benefit from an increase in daily wages under MGNREGA to Rs 202.

Pensioners, differently abled and poor widows will get an ex-gratia payment of Rs 1,000 in two instalments. This will benefit at least three crore people. An ex gratia payment of Rs 500 will be credited to 20 crore Jan Dhan accounts in the next three months.

Around 8.3 crore BPL families will be given free cylinders for the next three months. Women’s self-help groups will be eligible for Rs 20 lakh collateral free loans up from the earlier Rs 10 lakh.

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The government will pay both the employee and employer contributions to EPF for the next three months for all organisations employing less than 100 people of which 90% draw less than Rs 50,000 per month. PF scheme regulations will be amended to allow non-refundable advance of 73% of the amount outstanding or three months wages whichever is the lowest. About 4.7 crore workers will benefit from this change.

Rs 31,000 crore available under the building and construction workers welfare fund will be used to support 3.5 crore registered workers. State governments have been asked to use funds available under the district mineral fund to support testing, screening and other activities to prevent the new coronavirus disease from spreading.

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