Recently, the Finance Minister announced the Prime Minister’s Garib Kalyan package — a range of measures that the Government of India will take to alleviate the economic, health, and food-related distress of India’s poor in the wake of the national lockdown to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
- Ever since Janata Curfew, there have been demands that the government should come out with a relief package for the poor, as well as those in the informal sector, which accounts for 90 per cent of all jobs in the country.
- These demands increased after the Prime Minister announced a 21-day national lockdown.
- The FM’s previous relief package was primarily targeted towards the firms in the organised sector of the economy.
- The PMGK attempts to plug these gaps.
What FM said?
- The FM said the package will cost the national exchequer Rs 1.7 lakh crore, which is 0.8 per cent of India’s estimated gross domestic product in the current financial year (about Rs 204 lakh crore).
- However, not all this money is in addition to what was announced in the Union Budget.
- Some of the announcements refer to expenditure which would have happened under normal circumstances as well.
The PM Garib Kalyan package:
There are five elements to the PMGK package.
- Medical insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh for all health workers (doctors, paramedics, Asha workers etc.) treating patients.
- Help for the poor and those engaged in the unorganised sector.
- Help for the poor engaged in the organised sector.
- Help for construction workers.
- Use the money already available in the “district(-level) mineral fund” to pay for medical testing and screening for the coronavirus.
Help provided to poor and those in the unorganised sector:
The help is in two ways - free food grains, and cash transfers.
- The central government, working with the state governments, will provide an additional quota of food grains free of cost to all 80 crore beneficiaries under the Public Distribution System.
- PDS beneficiaries will get 5 kg of wheat (or rice) per month for the next three months. Additionally, each household (or family) will get 1 kg of pulses per month.
- The government announced 6 types of additional cash transfers. These are:
- Farmers: Rs 2,000 per farmer to 9 crore farmers under the PM-KISAN scheme.
- Old age, widow or disable: An additional Rs 1,000 per month pension for the next 3 months for those receiving old age, widow or disability pensions.
- This is a one-time payment, hence it does not mean their basic pensions have been raised. This is expected to help 3 crore beneficiaries.
- Women: Rs 500 per month will be transferred for the next 3 months to women holding a Jan Dhan bank account. This is expected to help 20 crore women.
- Over 8 crore women who are registered beneficiaries under Ujjwala Yojana will get one LPG cylinder per month for the next three months. While this is not exactly a cash transfer, these cylinders will be free of cost.
- Women Self Help Groups across the country: Roughly around 63 lakh of them can now take collateral-free loans up to Rs 20 lakh instead of the existing limit of Rs 10 lakh. This is not a cash transfer rather an enabling provision for receiving higher credit.
- Manual labour under MGNREGA: Wages paid for manual labour under MGNREGA have been increased from Rs 180 per day to Rs 202 per day.
- According to the FM, this move will help 5 crore households (since only one person per household can avail of employment under MGNREGA) and enable them to earn Rs 2,000 as additional income.
- However, the work needs to be done in a manner that ensures social distancing.
Also read: Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)
Source: The Indian Express