Gareeb Kalyan Yojana: Package of Rs 1.70 lakh crore allotted

The Union Finance Minister, Smt Nirmala Sitharaman announced a package of Rs 1.70 lakh crore for the front-line COVID-19 warriors and welfare of the people during this pandemic situation. She mentioned that the Finance Ministry designed this package within 36 hours from the announcement of the countrywide lockdown.

Approximately 20 lakh front-line COVID-19 warriors, including Asha workers, sanitary workers, nurses, doctors, and so on will receive medical insurance coverage of Rs 50 lakh per person.

Also Read: COVID-19: Highlights of FM Press Meet on 24th March 2020

The benefits of this package have been divided into two forms:

  1. Food security-related
  2. DBT- Direct Benefit Transfer

The following are the details of the economic package:

  1. Food-related relief measures: Under the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Anna Yojana, around 80 crore poor people will get an additional 5 kg rice or wheat per person, and each household will receive 1 kg of preferred pulse for the next three months (in addition to the 5 kg of rice or wheat per person per month). This distribution will be done in two instalments
  2. Direct Benefit Transfer: Eight specific announcements were made for the following sections
    1. Farmers: Under the Kisan Samman Nidhi programme, Rs 2,000 (on top of Rs 6,000) will be given as a front-load by the 1st week of April. This move will benefit about 8.69 crore farmers.
    2. MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) workers: A wage increase of Rs 2,000 (from Rs 182 to Rs 202 per day for 100 days) will be given to 5 crore families.
    3. Poor Senior Citizen/Poor Widows/Poor Divyang: An ex-gratia (one-time amount) of Rs 1,000 will be given to 3 crore poor senior citizens, widows and Divyang (disabled persons) in two instalments for the next three months.
    4. Women Registered Under the Jan Dhan Yojana Scheme: Around 20 crore women with Jan Dhan accounts will get an ex-gratia amount of Rs 500 per month for the next three months.
    5. Women/Household Registered Under the Ujjwala Scheme: About 8.3 crore BPL families will get free LPG cylinders for the next three months.
    6. Self-Help Groups (NRLM): Through National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), 63 lakh women SHGs covering seven crore households will enjoy collateral-free loans of Rs 20 lakh instead of Rs 10 lakh.
    7. Organised Sector Workers Through EPFO: For the next three months, under PMGKY, the Government of India will pay the EPF contribution for both employer and employee (12% each totalling to 24%). This benefit is available for all those establishments with up to 100 employees and where 90% of those employees draw a salary of less than Rs 15,000 per month. Around 80 lakh employees and 4 lakh establishments will benefit from this move. The EPFO scheme regulations will also be amended to allow the non-refundable advance of 75% of the fund or three months’ salary, whichever is lower. Around 4.8 crore registered EPFO workers will benefit from this amendment.
    8. Construction Workers: The welfare fund of Rs 31,000 crore will now be available for 3.5 crore registered building and construction workers. The Ministry has directed the state governments to utilise the fund and protect these construction workers.
    9. District Mineral Fund: The state governments have been directed to use the amount available in the district mineral fund for medical testing, screening and other requirements to combat COVID-19.

Smt Nirmala Sitharaman stated that the purpose of this package is to make sure that poor people do not starve and have enough cash in their hands. During the Q&A session, she said that the packages for the MSME’s and other sectors would be announced if/when it’s required.

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