Focus on migrant/farm labourers; Rs 50L insurance for health-sanitation workers; fund to prevent lay-off
The Centre on Thursday unveiled a Rs 1.7 lakh crore relief package for the weaker section of the society to deal with the impact of the three-weak nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak. However, there was nothing for the corporate sector that has taken a big hit due to the pandemic.
The economic package to help migrant workers, labourers, poor and agricultural workers, and others will come into effect immediately. “It has been made to reach out to the most vulnerable sections of the society who are in need of immediate help because of the economic disruption,” said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Minister of State for Finance & Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur was present, besides Atanu Chakraborty, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs and Debashish Panda, Secretary, Department of Financial Services.
Sitharaman also announced direct cash transfers for a large number of affected people, including senior citizens, widows, farmers and daily-wage labourers.
As per the package, health and sanitation workers will be insured for Rs 50 lakh per person. This will cover nearly 20 lakh persons.
“Safai karamcharis, ward boys, nurses, paramedics, technicians, doctors and specialists, and others’ health would be covered by a special insurance scheme. Any health professional who while treating Covid-19 patients meets with some accident, then he/she would be compensated with an amount of Rs 50 lakh under the scheme,” stated the Government Press release.
The package says that under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana 80 crore poor people will get 5 kg per person rice/wheat each month for the next 3 months in addition to 5kg of rice/wheat that they already get. Besides, 1kg of pulse according to regional preference for each household.
In a big relief to the rural women, the package says that 8.3 crore BPL Ujjwala Yojana beneficiaries will be given free cylinders for the next three months. During this period, a maximum of three gas cylinders will be provided.
The move comes two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered a 21-day nationwide lockdown.
Most of the financial benefits will be routed through the DBT scheme into the Jan Dhana account of the beneficiaries. In case, they don’t have such accounts, the Government will make alternative arrangement to provide them financial relief.
Sitharaman announced that daily wages under the MNREGA have been increased to Rs 202 a day from Rs 182. This will benefit nearly 5 crore families, Sitharaman said.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, farmers will get Rs 2,000 in April. This is expected to cover 8.7 crore families. The total amount distributed is estimated to be Rs 16,000 crore.
In addition, a total of 20.40 crore PM JAN Dhan Yojana women account-holders will be given ex-gratia of Rs 500 per month for next three months.
“This will help them run their household during this difficult period. For this purpose, the Government of India will spend Rs 31,000 crore,” Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.
Amid clamour for relief to low-wage earners in the unorganised sector who face a gloomy scenario due to the lockdown, the Government has decided to pay 24 per cent of their monthly wages into their Provident Fund accounts for the next three months.
“Wage earners below Rs 15,000 per month in businesses having less than 100 workers are at risk of losing their employment,” the Government said, adding that the assistance would help prevent “disruption in their employment”. The package also hopes to provide succour to senior citizens, widows and divyangs, numbering 3 crore.
“The Government will give them Rs 1,000 to tide over difficulties during next three months. Rs 3,000 crore has been provided for this purpose in the PM Garib Kalyan Package,” the Finance Minister said.
As per the Government’s decision, the Employees’ Provident Fund Regulations will be amended to include ‘pandemic’ as the reason to allow non-recoverable advance of 75 per cent of the amount or three months of the wages, whichever is lower, from their accounts.
Friday, 27 March 2020 | PNS | New Delhi