Winning Bizness Bureau
Mumbai. Two days after Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Niramla Sitharaman announced several important relief measures in areas of Income Tax, GST, Customs & Central Excise, Corporate Affairs, Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code (IBC) Fisheries, Banking Sector and Commerce, she came up with a a massive economic package today worth Rs 1.7 lakh crore to help migrant workers, labourers, poor and agricultural workers dealing with the impact of coronavirus outbreak.
The move has come two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered a 21-day nationwide lockdown.
Addressing a press conference, Finance Minister Sitharaman said that the package comes into effect immediately and has been made to reaching out to the most vulnerable sections of the society who are most in need of immediate help because of the economic disruption.
The main highlight of the economic package is the provision of insurance for health and sanitation workers worth Rs 50 lakh per person and approximately 20 lakh workers to be benefited under this.
Besides, under the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Anna Yojana, which is a part of package, 80 crore poor people will get 5 kg per person rice/wheat each month for the next 3 months in addition to 5kg of rice/wheat that they already get. Moreover, one kg of pulse according to regional preference for each household.
Announcing the package, she also said that the first installment of PM KISAN to be transferred immediately. The installment of Rs 2,000 to be transferred to accounts in the first week of April. Around 8.3 crore farmers to get benefit out of this.
More importantly, MGNREGA wages to be increased from Rs 182 to Rs 202, which according to finance minister will benefit 5 crore families.
Expectedly, Stock market welcomed the economic package and rallied for the third consecutive day on Thursday. The S&P BSE Sensex ended 1,411 points or around 5 per cent higher at 29,947 levels while the NSE’s Nifty-50 ended March series at 8,641-mark, up 324 points or around 4 per cent.
But interestingly, the massive package did not give any relief to middle class and the lower middle class who were demanding waiver or moratorium in paying EMIs.
Notably, former Lok Sabha member from North Mumbai Kirit Somaiya has already requested RBI Governor Shaktikant Das to declare 3-month moratorium for individuals, self-employed, small traders or retail borrowers. The Apex bank has, however, not reacted on such demands, though insiders feel that this may be announced in coming days.
City-based activist Floyd Sabastian Miranda, while expressing satisfaction over the package, said that there are crores of laborers across the country who work in informal sector and they too are highly vulnerable to this ongoing lockdown.
Referring Data from International Labour Organization (ILO), Miranda said that around 85 per cent of India’s workforce is engaged in the informal sector, where they do not enjoy the welfare measures like pensions, sick leave, paid leave or any kind of insurance.
“They are working in roles like security guards, cleaners, rickshaw pullers, streets vendors, garbage collectors and domestic helps and most of them do not have bank accounts, highly dependent on cash to meet their daily needs. Government must ensure that they get the benefit of the package,” Miranda pointed out.