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FM unveils Rs 1.7 lakh cr fiscal package for distressed poor

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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday announced direct cash transfers for farmers, poor and Jan Dhan account holders which will benefit 8.69 crore farmers.

The Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addressed the media in Delhi during market hours today. This was the second media briefing by the finance minister within a week.

FM announced a package worth Rs 1.7 lakh crore for the poor who need immediate help due to the distress caused by the nationwide lock down.

FM announced Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Ann Yojna (for next 3 months) which will benefit 80 crore poor people (2/3rd of India's population). In addition to already allotted 5 kg of rice/wheat per person, an additional 5 kg wheat or rice will be allotted free. Additional to this, 1 kg pulse (acc to regional preference) will be given for the next three months, announced FM.

Under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, free gas cylinders will be provided to 8 crore poor families for the next three months, FM added.

FM said 8.69 crore farmers will be immediately benefited through direct cash transfers. Installments of Rs 2,000 will be transferred in the first week of April.

For old age, divyang, widows (3 crore people covered), one-time amount of additional Rs 1000 in two installments through direct bank transfer (DBT) (hence no middlemen) over 3 months will be given.

Under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, MNREGA wages would be increased by Rs 20 with effect from 1 April, 2020. Wage increase under MNREGA will provide an additional Rs 2,000 benefit annually to a worker. This will benefit approximately 13.62 crore families.

FM also announced a Rs 50 lakh insurance per healthcare worker as a medical insurance cover for them for three months. Safai karamcharis, ward-boys, nurses, ASHA workers, paramedics, technicians, doctors and specialists and other health workers would be covered by a Special insurance Scheme. The scheme will help approximately 22 lakh health workers.

In the organised sector, Employees' Provident Fund Regulations will be amended to include Pandemic as the reason to allow non-refundable advance of 75% of the amount or three months of the wages, whichever is lower, from their accounts. Families of four crore workers registered under EPF can take benefit of this window.

Welfare Fund for Building and Other Constructions Workers has been created under a Central Government Act. There are around 3.5 crore registered workers in the Fund. State Governments will be given directions to utilise this fund to provide assistance and support to these workers to protect them against economic disruptions.

Further, the State Government will be asked to utilise the funds available under District Mineral Fund (DMF) for supplementing and augmenting facilities of medical testing, screening and other requirements in connection with preventing the spread of COVID-19 pandemic as well as treating the patients affected with this pandemic.

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, March 26 2020. 14:38 IST