India fights coronavirus: Relief for farmers, migrant workers in Rs20 trillion stimulus plan
Rs2t concessional credit for farmers as well as free food grains to migrant workers.
India's Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled the second tranche of the Rs 20 trillion fiscal stimulus on Thursday, offering Rs2 trillion concessional credit for farmers and Rs700 billion boost for middle income housing as well as free food grains to migrants for the next two months to help them cope with the impact of the lockdown.
Addressing her second press conference in two days, Sitharaman said the government has been facing criticism for its handling of the migrant crisis as hundreds of thousands still continue to walk back hundreds of kilometers to their home states as their income dried up because of the lockdown. "There is a legitimate concern about migrants returning to their home states. We are attending to migrants, we are not boasting," the finance minister said.
The minister said 30 million marginal farmers have already availed Rs 4 trillion loans on concessional rates. For the employment of migrant workers, the minister said the government has generated 146.2 million man-days up to May 13 with Rs 100 billion spent.
She said the government backed universal right to minimum wages and regional disparity in minimum wages need to be bridged by national floor wage.
The government will spend Rs 35 billion on giving free food grain to 80 million migrant workers who do not have either central or state PDS (public distribution system) cards. PDS ration cards to be made portable to allow migrant workers to use ration cards across states.
She said the government would launch affordable rental housing scheme for migrant workers and give Rs50 billion to five million street vendors. The minister had extended affordable housing scheme for middle income families with Rs600,000 to Rs1.8 million annual income to be extended till March 2021.
The government will provide Rs 300 billion additional emergency working capital fund to be provided through NABARD to small, marginal farmers, she said.
In the first tranche of the Rs20 trillion package announced on Wednesday, Sitharaman offered a provision of Rs3 trillion collateral free loans for MSMEs with a four-year tenure and moratorium of 12 months.
These loans will be available till October 31, 2020 and will be 100 per cent credit guaranteed. This will help 4.5 million units to resume activity and safeguard jobs. To provide stressed MSMEs with equity support, government will facilitate provision of Rs200 billion as subordinate debt.
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