Free LPG, grains, pulses and cash transfer part of economic package

New Delhi: To combat the economic impact of the 21-day nationwide lockdown on the poor, the Narendra Modi government Thursday announced a ₹1.7 lakh crore Prime Minister Gareeb Kalyan Yojana. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman made the announcement at a press conference.

We have made provision so that bank branches can open, she said, adding that the Central government has given orders to state governments to use funds of Rs31,000 crore to provide relief to building and construction workers.

The scheme comes into effect immediately. People will get the benefits from April 1, the finance minister said.

EPFO to allow 75% non-refundable advance or 3 months of wages whichever is lower.

Ujjwala beneficiaries to get free cooking gas (LPG) cylinders in next three months; this will benefit 8.3 crore BPL families.

Collateral-free loan doubled to ₹20 lakh to 63 lakh women self-help groups; to impact 7 crore households.

Government will pay EPF contribution, both of employer and employee, for three months for all those establishments with less than 100 employees out of which 90% earn less than ₹15,000 per month.

Direct benefit cash transfers will benefit farmers, MGNREGA, poor widows, Pensioners & divyangs.

An ex-gratia of ₹1,000 to three crore poor senior citizen, poor widows and poor disabled.

Women Jan Dhan account holders: They will get an ex-gratia amount of ₹500 per month for 3 months to run household during this period.

About 8.69 crore farmers to be immediately benefited through Direct cash transfers. Installment of ₹2000 in the first week of April will be transferred.

Every MNREGA worker to get hike of ₹2,000.

We announce a wage increase in MNREGA. It will benefit 5 crore families, said Sitharaman.

The package will impact 80 crore people. No poor will be without food in his hand for the next three months, she said.

Besides, the beneficiaries will also receive 1 kg dal for free.

Prime Minister Garib Ann Yojna will ensure that each one will get an additional 5 kg rice or wheat per month in addition to the existing scheme.

Direct benefit transfer will be a part of the scheme.

Health workers to get medical insurance cover of ₹50 lakh.

The Centre also announced ₹1.7 lakh crore Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Yojna.

We have now come with a package which will immediately take care of the welfare concerns and thse who need immediate help, the finance minister said.

In Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has announced a ₹100 crore relief package for the poor.

The cost of the COVID-19 lockdown has been pegged at ₹9 lakh crore or 4% of the GDP, according to a report by British brokerage Barclays.

The economic package might be used to put money directly into the accounts of more than 100 million poor and to support businesses hit the hardest by the lockdown, Reuters had reported earlier.

A report by Nomura had said that nearly 75% of the Indian economy will be shutdown during the 21-day period. The lockdown will lead to a direct output loss of approximately 4.5%.

The package will be focused on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and daily wage workers besides injecting liquidity in the market, ANI said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week had constituted a task force headed by the Finance Minister to work out package for economy hit by coronavirus.