The Union government has so far provided cash assistance of Rs 68,820 crore to 420 million poor since it announced the Rs 1.7 lakh crore Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP) on 26 March, the finance ministry said on Tuesday.
The package, which is around 0.8% of India’s gross domestic product (GDP), aims to ease economic distress, especially for the underprivileged, and promises food and cash security to the poor. Besides direct financial assistance, PMGKP also includes free distribution of wheat, rice, pulses and cooking gas cylinders.
The statement said the government has front-loaded a payment of Rs 17,891 crore as the first instalment of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) to 89.4 million beneficiaries. PM-KISAN scheme was launched on 1 December, 2018 to provide cash support of Rs 6,000 per year to all farmer families across the country in three equal instalments. While launching the Rs 1.7 lakh crore package on 26 March, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that the Rs 2,000 instalment of PM-KISAN would be front-loaded and given immediately.
The statement said Rs 10,325 crore has been already credited to 206.5 million women account holders under the Prime Minister Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) as the first instalment. Rupees 10,315 crore and Rs 10,312 crore were also credited to PMJDY accounts in the second and the third instalments, respectively. In order to help poor women in this difficult time when the livelihoods of most of them are disrupted, Sitharaman had announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 500 per month for three months starting April.
“A total of Rs 2,814.5 crore disbursed to about 2.81 crore old age persons, widows and disabled persons in two instalments,” the statement said. On 26 March, Sitharaman had promised an ex-gratia of Rs 1,000 each to 30 million poor senior citizens, widows and divyang who were vulnerable due to the economic disruption caused by COVID-19.
About 18.2 million construction workers have received financial support amounting to Rs 4,987.18 crore, the statement said. Besides transferring cash, the government has already distributed food grains to millions of poor, it said.
“Under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMJKY), 37.52 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) of food grains has been distributed to 75.04 crore beneficiaries in April 2020, 37.46 LMT distributed to 74.92 crore beneficiaries in May 2020, and 36.62 LMT distributed to 73.24 crore beneficiaries in June 2020,” it said.
The scheme initially promised to provide 5 kg wheat or rice and 1 kg pulses for free every month till June this year to 800 million poor. The scheme was further extended for five months till November 2020.
“Since then, 98.31 LMT food grains have been given to states and union territories so far. In July 2020, about 36.09 LMT food grains were distributed to 72.18 crore beneficiaries, in August 2020, 30.22 LMT were distributed to 60.44 crore beneficiaries, and, in September 2020, 1.92 LMT were distributed to 3.84 crore beneficiaries,” a finance ministry spokesperson said.
In addition, a total of 5.43 LMT pulses have been distributed to 188 million beneficiaries between April and June 2020. This scheme was extended for five months till November, 2020.
The statement said that a total of 85.2 million cylinders have been booked and delivered under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) in April and May 2020. So far 32.7 crore free cylinders have been delivered to the beneficiaries in June, 10.5 million in July, 8.9 million in August, and 1.5 million in September 2020, the statement said. PMGKY package includes free supply of three 14.5 kg gas cylinders to 80 million poor families.
Giving details of the implementation of the package, the statement said, “36.05 lakh members of Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has taken benefit of online withdrawal of non-refundable advance from EPFO account amounting to Rs 9,543 crore.”
The government has transferred 24% EPF contribution to accounts of 4.3 million employees, amounting to Rs 2,476 crore, it said. In order to help low wage earners in organised sectors, the government on 26 March announced it would pay 24% of their monthly wages into the PF accounts of wage-earners below Rs 15,000 per month in businesses with less than 100 workers for next three months. “This would prevent a disruption in their employment,” Sitharaman had said, while announcing the welfare package.
The government has notified the increased wage rate under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Program (MNREGA) effective from 1 April, 2020, it said. “In the current financial year, 195.21 crore persons’ man-days of work generated. Further, Rs 59,618 crore released to states to liquidate pending dues of both wage and material,” the statement said.
Sitharaman had raised wages for MNREGA workers under the PMJKY package by Rs 20 with effect from 1 April to provide an additional Rs 2,000 benefit annually to each worker. “This will benefit approximately 13.62 crore families,” she had said.