nirmala sitharaman
nirmala sitharaman

[Coronavirus Lockdown] Govt announces Rs 1,75,000 Cr aid for poor; Insurance for Govt health professionals battling COVID-19 and more

Bar & Bench

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday announced a series of financial aid measures that will be carried out during the 21 day pan-India lockdown to curb the spread of the Novel Coronavirus.

The beneficiaries targeted include the poor, health workers, senior citizens, widows and the differently abled.

A summary note issued following Sitharaman's press conference this afternoon emphasises that measures are being taken to ensure that no person's access to food is cut off during the lockdown.

"Government of India would not allow anybody, specially any poor family, to suffer on account of non-availability of foodgrains due to disruption in the next three months."
Press Release

The note goes on to outline the following measures to be implemented under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana:

  • About 80 crore people are expected to be covered by this scheme.

  • Each persons would be provided double their current entitlement of over the next three months, and free of cost.

  • The government would bear the expenditure of Rs 40,000 crores spent of this purpose.

  • The note adds that one kg of pulses such as moong, toor, chana, urad would be provided per family for the next three months. This would be provided free of cost. Rs 5,000 cores has been allocated for the purpose

Notably, the Finance Minister has also announced the introduction of a special Insurance scheme for health workers fighting COVID-19 in Government Hospitals and Health Care Centres. Highlights of this new insurance scheme include the following:

  • The scheme would cover safari karamcharis, ward bonds, nurses, paramedics, technicians, doctors and specialists and other health professionals

  • Any health professional who meets with some accident while treating

  • COVID-19 patients would be compensated with Rs 50 lakhs

  • All government health centres, wellness centres and hospitals of Central and State Governments would be covered.

  • Approximately 22 lakhs health workers workers would be provided insurance cover to fight this pandemic.

Other financial aid measures to be implemented under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana include the following:

  • Each farmer is to be given Rs 2,000 in April under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana. The scheme is expected to cover 8.7 crore farmers. Rs 16,000 crores would be districted to them

  • A total of 20.4 crores women account holders are to be given an ex gratis payment of Rs 500 per month for the next three months. For this purpose, the Central government will spend Rs 31,000 crores

  • Gas cylinders will be provided free of cost to 8 crore poor families for the next three months. Three gas cylinders will be provided during this period. Rs 13,000 crores has been allocated for this purpose.

  • 24% of monthly wages will be paid to low wage earners, with earnings below Rs 15,000 per month in business having less that 100 workers who are at risk of losing employment. This amount will be put into their Provident Fund accounts for the next three months, with an aim to prevent the disruption of their employment. Rs 5,000 crores has been allocated for this purpose.

  • Senior citizens (above 60 years), widows and differently abled persons will be given Rs 1,000 during the next three months. Rs 3,000 crores has been allocated for this purpose.

  • MNREGA wages would be increased by Rs 20 lakhs with effect from April 1. The move is expected to benefit approximately 13.62 crore families. Approximately Rs 5,600 crores is to be spent for this purpose

  • As far as organised sector employees are concerned, the Employees’s Provident Fund (EPF) Regulations is to be amended so that a pandemic is recognised as a ground to allow non recoverable advance of 75 percent of the amount of three months of the wages, whichever is lower, frothier PF accounts. Families of 4 crore workers registered under the EPF are expected to benefit.

  • For Self Help Groups, the limit of collateral fee lending would be increased from Rs 10 to Rs 20 lakhs, as a form of additional credit availability.

  • Cumulatively, the PM Garib Kalyan Package provides Rs 1,75,000 crore to the poor to help them fight the battle against the Coronavirus, the press note intimates.

MOF - Press Conference.pdf
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