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Covid-19: Finance Minister of India Announces Rs 1.7 Lakh Crore Package for Poor

PM Gareeb Kalyan Yojana is to bring relief to the poor who have been suffering the most due to the lockdown

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced on March 26 a number of welfare measures to curb the economic distress of the poor in the country who’ve been hit the most due to the pandemic and subsequent nationwide 21-day lockdown. The Rs 1.70 lakh crore relief package under Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana is most likely to benefit approximately 80 crore people. The package will include both cash transfers and food security and an insurance cover worth Rs 50 lakh for all ASHA workers, sanitation workers, doctors, nurses, and medical and paramedical staff. An additional of 5 kg wheat or rice will be provided for free for the next three months, in addition to the 5 kg per month already provided under Public Distribution System. One kg of pulses would also be provided per month, in accordance with the regional preferences.

Other provisions under the package include wage increment of MGNREGA workers from Rs 182 to Rs 202 per day, cash transfer provisions to farmers, pensioners and disabled people, women self-help groups, construction workers, poor widows, and MGNREGA workers. The Finance Minister also asked the State governments to use the money available under the district mineral funds for the medical needs in their states and districts including screening, testing and treatment. The announcement of relief package came after the Finance Minister’s address on March 24, where she announced some measures including tax deadline extensions, increasing threshold of insolvency filings from Rs one lakh to Rs one crore, and easing the minimum balance rules on the savings account.