Second tranche of economic package to benefit migrant workers, small farmers: Nirmala Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said the second tranche of economic stimulus package will be for the benefit of migrant workers, street vendors and small farmers.

At a press conference, she said 3 crore marginal farmers have already availed ₹4 lakh crore of loans at concessional rates. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Tuesday announced a cumulative package of ₹20 lakh crore (nearly 10% of GDP) to provide relief to various segments of the economy. This included ₹1.7 lakh crore package comprising free foodgrains and cash to poor for three months announced in March, and ₹5.6 lakh crore stimulus provided through various monetary policy measures by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

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The remaining of the ₹20 lakh crore package is being announced in tranches – Ms. Sitharman had in the first tranche on Wednesday unveiled a ₹5.94-lakh-crore-plan that comprises off-budget items such as ₹3 lakh crore of credit line to small businesses as support to shadow banks and electricity distributors. Off-budget items do not result in any outgo from the government exchequer but these will aid in easing liquidity constrains for businesses once the lockdown is lifted.

₹10,000-crore job work under MNREGS

FM Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said ₹10,000 crore has been spent in the last two months on creating 14.62 crore man-days of work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) to help migrant workers.

Announcing the second tranche of economic stimulus package, she said the work has been offered to 2.33 crore wage seekers till May 13. About 40-50% more persons have been enrolled as compared to May last year, she said.

On reforms in pipeline, she said the government is for universal right to minimum wages and wants to remove regional disparity through a national floor wage.

Free foodgrains for eight crore migrants for 2 months

Further, the Finance Minister on Thursday announced free foodgrains for an estimated eight crore migrant workers for next two months at a cost of ₹3,500 crore.

She said eight crore migrant workers who do not have either Central or State Public Distribution System (PDS) card would get 5kg grains per person and 1kg of chana for two months.

Also, PDS ration cards would be made portable, allowing migrant workers to use their ration cards across States, she said adding this would benefit 67 crore beneficiaries or 83% of PDS beneficiaries, in 23 States by August. By March 2021, 100% coverage under ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ will be done, she added.

Interest subvention on MUDRA loans

Ms. Sitharaman on Thursday announced a 2% interest subvention on the smallest category of loans given under the MUDRA scheme. As much as ₹1,500 crore interest subvention would be given for MUDRA-Shishu loans of up to ₹50,000.

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