2nd part of economic package to focus on migrant workers, small farmers: FM

RSTV Bureau
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman address the media. (Twitter Photo)

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman address the media. (Twitter Photo)

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said Rs 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 the economic stimulus package, she said the work has been offered to 2.33 crore wage seekers till May 13.

About 40-50 per cent more persons have been enrolled as compared to May last year, she said.

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

She said the second tranche of the 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 Rs 4 lakh crore of loans on concessional rates.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Tuesday announced a cumulative package of Rs 20 lakh crore (nearly 10 per cent of GDP) to provide relief to various segments of the economy. This included Rs 1.7 lakh crore package comprising of free foodgrains and cash to poor for three months announced in March, and Rs 5.6 lakh crore stimulus provided through various monetary policy measures by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The remaining of the Rs 20 lakh crore package is being announced in tranches — Sitharman had in the first tranche on Wednesday unveiled a Rs 5.94 lakh crore plan that mostly comprises off-budget items such as Rs 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.

The Finance Minister also announced free foodgrains for an estimated 8 crore migrant workers for the next two months at a cost of Rs 3,500 crore.

She said 8 crore migrant workers who do not have either central or state PDS card, will get 5 kilograms of grains per person and 1 kilogram of ‘chana’ for two months.

Also, PDS ration cards will be made portable, allowing migrant workers to use their ration cards across states, she said adding this would benefit 67 crore beneficiaries or 83 per cent of PDS beneficiaries, in 23 states by August.

By March 2021, 100 per cent coverage under ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ will be done, she added.

(With inputs from news agency)