Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday announced a slew of measures for the benefit of the poor, including migrants, farmers, small businessmen and street vendors. Part of the Aatma Nirbhar Bharat economic package, which will be a chunk of the Rs 20 lakh crore promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, the measures announced today are both shortterm and long-term ones. In her opening remarks, Sitharaman said today nine steps are being announced in which three are related to migrants, one to shishu loans, one to housing, one for tribals and two related to small farmers. The big-ticket announcements were the completion of the One Nation One Ration Card scheme by March 2021, free supply of foodgrain supply to 80 crore migrants for two months, a Rs 30,000 crore additional emergency fund for farmers through NABARD and a Rs 2 lakh crore credit boost to 2.5 crore farmers under the Kisan credit card scheme. The Finance Minister said PM Modi is always concerned about the difficulties faced by the poor, including migrant workers and farmers as they are the backbone of this nation.
There is also a need to create employment opportunities for the poor, including migrant and unorganised sector workers, she said. Apart from this, farmers need timely and adequate credit support. She added the government is attentive to the needs to all segments of economy and society, in a curt response to opposition claims over yesterday’s announcements not meeting the needs of the poor and the migrants. Sitharaman said interest subvention and prompt repayment incentive on crop loans due from March 1 has been extended to May 31. According to her, 3 crore marginal farmers have already availed Rs 4 crore of loans on concessional rates. Maintaining that the Modi government was aware of the plight of migrant workers, she said states have been permitted to utilise SDRF for setting up shelter and providing them food and water. She also said that 12,000 self-help groups have made 3 crore masks and 1.2 lakh litres of sanitisers. She said 7,200 new self-help groups for the urban poor have been formed in the last two months.
Here’s a list of short- and long-term measures announced today:
1) Free foodgrain supply to migrants for 2 months: Additional foodgrain to all states/ UTs for migrant labourers where they will get 5kg wheat or rice and 1 kg chana for 2 months of May and June, 2020. This will cover non-PDS card holders and its entire cost of Rs 3,500 crore will be borne by the Centre. Around 8 crore migrant workers are to be covered under this.
2) One Nation One Ration Card scheme Under this scheme, ration cards can be used in any ration shop in any part of the country as migrants move from state to state. According to the finance ministry, 67 crore beneficiaries amounting to 83 percent of PDS population will be covered by August 2020. By March 2021, 100 percent of portability will be achieved. This will ensure people in transit especially migrant workers can get the benefit of PDS across the country.
3) Rs 2 lakh crore credit boost to 2.5 crore farmers under Kisan Credit Card Scheme. A special drive to provide concessional credit to PM-KISAN beneficiaries through Kisan credit cards. Fisherman and Animal Husbandry farmers will be included in this drive. This will cover 2.5 crore farmers.
4) Scheme for affordable rental housing complexes for migrant workers and urban poor The Centre will launch a scheme for migrant workers and urban poor to provide ease of living at affordable rent. Affordable rental housing complexes will provide social security and quality life to migrant labour, urban poor. This will be done through converting government funded houses in the cities into affordable rental housing complexes under PPP mode through concessionaire.
5) Rs 5,000 crore credit facility for street vendors A special scheme to be launched within a month to facilitate easy access to credit to street vendors who are among the most adversely impacted. Under this scheme, Rs 10,000 working capital will be given for each enterprise. This scheme will cover urban as well rural vendors. It is expected that 50 lakh street vendors will benefit from this.
6) Rs 30,000 crore additional emergency working capital for farmers through NABARD. NABARD will extend additional re-finance support for Rs 30,000 crore for meeting crop loan requirement of rural cooperative banks and RRBs. This is over and above Rs 90,000 crore that will be provided by NABARD to this sector in normal course. This will benefit around 3 crore farmers.
7) Rs 70,000 crore boost to housing sector and MIG through extension of credit-linked subsidy The credit-linked subsidy scheme for Middle Income Group whose annual income is between Rs 6 lakh and Rs 18 lakh will be extended till March 2021. This will benefit 2.5 lakh middle income families and lead to investment of over Rs 70,000 crore.
8) MGNREGA, rural economy Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that 2.33 crore wage seekers in 1,87 lakh gram panchayats had been enrolled under MGNREGA. According to her, Rs 10,000 crore under MNREGA spent in just 43 days. “We have already generated 14.62 crore person-days of work till May 13, which is 40-50% more persons enrolled as compared to last May. Migrant workers going back to their states being actively enrolled,”.she said.
9) 2 percent interest subvention for 12 months for Shishu MUDRA loanees. Government will provide interest subvention of 2% for prompt payees for a period of 12 months to those who have loans less than Rs 50,000 thousand under Mudra scheme. This will provide relief of about Rs 1,500 crore. Further, Rs 6,000 crore will be allotted for creating employment for tribals/ adivasis under CAMPA funds.