Migrant workers to get free-food for next two months: Sitharaman
Addressing media for the second straight day on the economic package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said today's announcement revolves around migrant workers, small farmers, street vendors, etc. "We will keep in mind concerns related to migrant workers," she asserted. She said the government is mindful about every section of the society. Here are the highlights.
Sitharaman said the coronavirus-necessitated lockdown started in March but the government wasn't sitting idle in that period. "25 lakh new Kisan credit cards have been given in the last 2 months which entails that they can take concessional credit. Those new credit cardholders have also been given loans which totals Rs. 25,000 crore," she said. She said state governments also got assistance.
Sitharaman emphasized in the last two months, the government of India took steps to help the urban poor, including migrant workers. She said that the Centre told state governments to set up shelter homes to give three meals/day to urban homeless. For this purpose, the Centre sent Rs. 11,000 crore to states, she claimed. Ironically, migrant workers suffered the most during this lockdown period.
Confirming that the previous package of Rs. 1.7 lakh crore (announced in March) would continue, Sitharaman said migrant workers, who have no ration cards, will be given 5 kg rice/wheat per person and 1 kg chana per family for the next two months. This will help 8 crore workers, and state governments will be the implementing it. The estimated expenditure is Rs. 3,500 crore.
"In order to benefit migrant workers, we are coming up with national portability of public distribution cards that can be used in any part of country. If the worker is in Bihar and moves to Rajasthan that person can take ration there," she added.
"One nation, one ration card" scheme will help 67 crore. To ensure that migrant workers have a place to stay in the area where they work, the government is launching a scheme under the PM Awas Yojana. "We will be incentivizing manufacturing units, industries, and associations to build an affordable housing complex on their private land. Will be done through PPP mode," Sitharaman said.
Noting that street hawkers have been drastically hit due to COVID-19, Sitharaman said a special credit facility of Rs. 5,000 crore has been set aside. "Within a month, the government will launch a special scheme which will help 50 lakh street vendors. Once lockdown is lifted, they can start their business back," she said. MoS (Finance) Anurag Thakur added online payments would be encouraged.
"Credit-linked subsidy scheme of 2017 for affordable housing is being extended up to March, 2021. 3.3 lakh families have benefited. 2.5 lakh more will benefit. This is for the lowest strata of the middle-income group, with Rs. 6-18 lakh family income annually," she said.
Further, the Centre will be giving Rs. 30,000 crore additional emergency working scheme through the NABARD scheme for farmers. This money will be given through state co-operative banks and will benefit 3 crore farmers. This fund is especially for small and marginal farmers. Meanwhile, fisheries and animal husbandry farmers will also be given Kisan credit cards to help them get concessional credit.
Yesterday, the FM and Thakur had announced a slew of measures for the MSMEs, the biggest one was changing its definition to extend benefits to more companies. The ministers said MSMEs will get collateral-free automatic loans up to Rs. 3 lakh crore. They will be given four years for loan-repayment, along with a moratorium of 12 months.