Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled the second tranche of Narendra Modi government’s Rs 20 lakh crore coronavirus-challenging economic booster this evening, focussing on migrant workers, farmers and street vendors who were promised a Rs 3.16 lakh crore package of free foodgrains, concessional credit and working capital loan respectively.
The crux of today’s presentation that dawned on the journalists today was that the focus was on migrant workers, small farmers, street vendors and the lower middle class.
In today’s address, the finance minister, recalling measures announced by the government for migrant workers and farmers in the lockdown period, said that 3 crore marginal farmers had availed loans at concessional rates. These farmers had, she said, already benefited from the Rs 4 lakh crore worth of loans. The RBI moratorium had benefited them too, Sitharaman said.
The finance minister spoke also of the interest subvention scheme and prompt repayment incentive on crop loans, due since 1 March, that had been extended up to 31 May.
Sitharaman spoke of 25 lakh new Kisan Credit Cards sanctioned with a loan limit of Rs 25,000 crore.
Thakur added that the union govt had released Rs 11,002 crore in advance to states to enhance their SDRF funds to help the states make shelters for migrant workers and provide them food.
Talking of India’s fight against coronavirus, Sitharaman informed the press that 12,000 self-help groups at urban centres comprising poor people had produced 3 crore masks and 1,20,000 litres of sanitisers.
The finance minister said that 7,200 new self-help groups of urban poor had been formed since 15 March.
Sitharaman said that the union government, along with the states, were providing migrant workers who have returned to their homes work via MGNREGA. She said that 14.62 crore man-days of work had been generated till 13 May.
The finance minister said the government had offered work to 2.33 crore wage seekers yesterday in 1.87 lakh gram panchayats, which was 40-50% more workers compared to May last year.
The annual expenditure so far on this account has been Rs 10,000 crore, Sitharaman said, with average wage rate rising to Rs 202 from Rs 192 in the last fiscal.
A total of nine steps were announced today. These comprised three measures for migrant workers, one for MUDRA Shishu Loan, one for street vendors, one for housing, one for employment generation for tribals and two related to small cultivators.
Sitharaman, recalling too much of what the government has done already, made it difficult for the reporters to follow how much exactly was the part from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s declaration of Rs 20 lakh crore that was being detailed today. The role of her deputy Anurag Thakur was reduced to adding a few words to what the senior minister was saying.
Flashback: 1st tranche
Yesterday, Sitharaman was flanked by finance ministry officials and MoS Thakur. She had announced measures of relief for MSMEs, NBFCs and power discoms besides increasing the purchasing power of consumers by giving them a 25% relief in TDS and sharing the provident fund liability of both employers and employees.
The finance minister had on 13 May extended lines of credit worth Rs 3 lakh crore to MSMEs, a fund of Rs 30,000 crore for the NBFCs and Rs 90,000 crore for the hassled discoms. The industry had welcomed the steps announced under the first tranche.