Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled the second tranche of Centre's Rs 20 lakh crore fiscal stimulus, focused exclusively on migrant workers, street vendors and small farmers. This included extra ration, a universal ration card that would work across the country and affordable rental housing scheme. "There is a legitimate concern about migrants returning to their home states We are attending to migrants, we are not boasting," the minister said amid rising opposition criticism that the Centre is ignoring the plight of migrant labourers.
Private sector employees will get a boost to their take-home salaries and small and medium-sized will be offered Rs 3 lakh crore in collateral-free bank loans, Nirmala Sitharaman had announced on Wednesday, detailing parts of the government's Rs 20 lakh crore COVID-19 economic relief plan.
Here are the highlights of Nirmala Sitharaman's announcements on Day 2:
- Today's announcements for small traders, small farmers, self-employed people, migrant workers, street vendors, tribals.
- For farmers, today we will speak about 2 provisions. There are more, but that will be given in the next few days. Today is just 2. So, please don't think it is just two for farmers - there are more.
- Three crore marginal farmers have already benefited from 4 lakh crores. They were also given a moratorium for 3 months not to pay EMIs. In the last 2 months, 25 lakh new kisan cards have been given. This is just to let you know that we have already reached out to marginal farmers.
- Today's nine announcements are as follows:
- Free Food Grains - What is there currently will continue. In addition, even for those who are non-card holders too can avail this 5kg (rice), 5kg (wheat) / 5kg (chana) offer per family. 8 crore people approximately will benefit and government has allocated 3,500 crores. This will be enacted by state governments, and will be valid for the next 3 months.
- There is going to be One Nation One Ration Card throughout the country. Anyone, irrespective of where are are - whichever state or UT they are in - can avail ration. The One Nation One Ration Card is already rolled out 83% so far, and will be 100% by March 2021. This will ensure people et their rightful ration in whichever corner of the country they may be.
- Affordable rentals - Under PM Awas Yojana, a scheme will start for rental housing scheme, where institution and associations will be asked to make affordable rental housing accommodation on their premises. Also, government will make affordable housing for urban poor, labours and migrants in all states and UTs. This will be constructed on PPP basis. The government is working to ensure a roof on everyone's head.
- Sishu loans under MUDRA - for smallest loan takers. Loans of up to 50,000 rupees or lesser - all borrowers will have a 2% interest subversion rate. This will benefit roughly 3 crore people who are beneficiaries under the MUDRA shishu category.
- Rs 5,000 crore special credit facility benefit for street vendors. Scheme will be launched within 1 month. This will benefit 50 lakh street vendors across states and UTs.
- Housing for the middle-income group - We wish to give the middle income group - the lowest strata of the middle class - between 6 lakh to 18 lakh only - a scheme for subsidised housing is being done. We are now offering a one-year extension of the scheme from March 2020 to March 2021. The scheme would be valued at Rs 70,000 crore. This had already benefitted 3.3 lakh families. The extension of 1 year will benefit another 2.5 lakh middle income families and will generate a sudden demand in the housing sector.
- For Tribals: A Rs 600 crore fund for boost to tribal sector work.
- For small and marginal farmers, an additional Rs 30,000 crore to the existing 90,000 crore under NABARD. This will help especially in the Rabi season. This will benefit 3 crore farmers.
- Kisan credit card: Nearly 2 lakh crore concessional credit boost for 2.5 crore farmers do not have kisan credit card, they will benefit. This will also include fishermen and animal husbandry workers and farmers.
- In 2014, in first speech, PM Modi emphasized the need to help the poor. We have to focus on helping the poor of the poorest. The Modi government has helped the poor. More than 22 crore poor have insurance. The PM is always worried about the poor, the poorest; we helped the MSMEs which employs nearly 12 crore people, says Minister of State Anurag Thakur.
- Liquidity support for farmers and rural economy has been happening for last 2 months i.e during coronavirus crisis. 63 lakh loans of 86,000 crore have been approved in agriculture area. NABARD has re-financed 29,500 crore only in march to rural banks only in march, support of 4,200 crore for rural infrastructure.
- In the last two months, during COVID-19 period, what we have done for urban poor - Centre has given out Rs 11,000 crore. It was sent from Centre to states for temporary shellters to be made. At the shelter homes in urban areas, all 3 meals are being given to them. I am saying all this today because we want to inform you all that our government cares for the migrants.
- 12,000 self-help groups across India have produced over 3 crore masks, 1,20,000 litres of hand sanitiser.
- There is a legitimate concern about migrants returning to thier home states. We had already increased the daily compensation from Rs 182 to Rs 202, this announcement was made earlier. The migrant workers who go from here and enroll in MGNREGA will get compensation. States and UTs have been informed about this.
- 2.3 crore migrants offered work in over 1 lakh panchayats. Minimum wages applicable only to 30% of the workers. Regional disparity in minimum wage - we are trying to get over this. We are talking to states about a national floor wage concept. Benefits for inter-state migration of workers - We want to have a definition for this. The
portability of welfare benefits for migrants also being discussed in parliament. We want to make sure of ESIC coverage.
- 44 labour laws have been reduced to four codes.
- On yesterday's press conference, just want to clarify that the EPF of 12% + 12% both will be borne by the government of India for PSUs. This will also be extended for the next 3 months.
- Yes, people are suffering. Yes, they (migrants) are walking back to homes. PM Modi did say stay where you are. But emotions being what they are. I thank the media for being a catalyst in bringing out the information.
- The 'One Nation One Ration Card' is an Aadhaar-linked digitised card, wherein the Aadhaar number of all family members are added. So, if a migrant worker is in one city and their family is another part of the country, they can decide and divide the ration how they feel best and avail it accordingly in both places based on the allocation per family.