Second Tranche of Economic Package Will Benefit Migrant Workers, Street Vendors, Says FM

New Delhi, May 14

The second tranche of the economic stimulus announced today by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman sought to alleviate the lockdown-induced misery of migrant labour and street vendors, extend more credit to farmers and ease the repayment worries of the smallest borrowers in banks.

In monetary terms, the largest announcement was for the farmers. The government will extend Rs 2 lakh crore of concessional credit to benefit 2.5 crore farmers. In addition, NABARD will provide emergency working capital fund of Rs 30,000 crore in addition to its budgeted refinance support of Rs 90,000 annually.

For the migrants, even with no ration cards, Sitharaman announced free supply of 10 kg foodgrain and 2 kg pulses for the next two months.

The government has estimated the number of migrants at 8 crore and the cost for this exercise at Rs 3,500 crore. However, the onus is on the states for tracing these migrants.

She said states have been asked to enrol migrants returning to their villages in MNREGA work for which the government had earlier enhanced the wage floor from Rs 182 to Rs 202 per day. MNREGA has already generated work till May 13 which is 40 to 50 per cent more than in May last year, she noted.

However, the other two measures will benefit migrants when the next calamity occurs. The first is to make ration cards nationally portable which Sitharaman hailed as “one classic example” of the Prime Minister’s accent on technology-driven systems. This would benefit 67 crore beneficiaries in 23 states. But Sitharaman was unable to convincingly explain how this system will work if two out of four people on the ration card migrate and the others stay back.

While this portability will be implemented by March 2021, the other proposal of providing affordable housing to migrants is still a blueprint. Sitharaman said the government was considering three options under the PPP mode of building rental, affordable accommodation.

For the middle-income group, the government has extended an income credit-linked subsidy scheme for simple, affordable houses by a year to March 2021. Three lakh families have benefited in the three years of this scheme and Sitharaman expects 2.5 lakh families to take up this offer in a Covid-affected year.

Sitharaman said the government has allowed states to use Rs 6,000 crore of afforestation funds for providing work. Street vendors will get a special credit facility of Rs 5,000 crore within a month and Shishu Loans under the Mudra scheme have been given interest subvention on loans worth Rs 1.62 lakh crore for one year. This will benefit about 3 crore people.  

However, both Sitharaman and Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur, who translated her observations into Hindi, were intent on establishing the government’s pro-poor and pro-farmer credentials by enumerating the steps taken so far.

Sitharaman mentioned migrants several times in her address and pointed out that many of the facilities being extended to them by the states were actually bankrolled or facilitated by the Centre.

“The government is not sitting idle. It has kept in mind and prioritised migrant workers. If I have not spoken about something, it is not as if the government has not planned for it. It will be there in the next package,” said Sitharaman.

Highlights: 

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says 2nd tranche of eco stimulus package to benefit migrant workers, street vendors, small farmers.

3 crore marginal farmers have already availed Rs 4 lakh crore of loans on concessional rates, says FM 

63 lakh loans approved in the agriculture area

25 lakh new Kisan Credit Cards issued with a loan limit of Rs 25,000 crore

Rs 4200 crore allocated for rural infrastructure

7,200 new SHG groups formed for urban poor in the last two months: FM

Rs 11,000 crore given for migrants, urban poor: FM 

Legitimate concern about migrants going back to their states. Increase in average wage rate from Rs 182 to Rs 202, was announced earlier: FM

14.62 person-days of work generated till May 13, says FM

Migrant workers are being actively enrolled under MGNREGA in their home states, says Sitharaman. 

Plan to continue MGNREGA projects in monsoon season

Planning to introduce a national floor wage concept, to remove the wage disparity between states: FM

Social security schemes for works in unorganised sector

Other ideas in pipeline include: A definition of inter-state migrant workers, safeguards for night duty for women workers 

Free foodgrain supply to all migrants for the next two months: FM. Rs 3,500 crore will be spent by the Centre for this, state government will implement the scheme. 

‘One nation, one ration’ card to be introduced. This would enable national portability of ration. Ration cards can be used at any ration shop in any part of India through this.

Affordable rental housing accommodation and complexes to be constructed through PPP mode: FM. Urban poor and migrants will be able to afford housing through this, says FM.

Govt to launch affordable rental housing scheme for migrant workers, says FM

FM announces Rs 1,500 cr interest subvention for MUDRA-Shishu loans of up to Rs 50,000

50 lakh street vendors to be given Rs 5,000 cr, says FM announcing relief to vendors hit by lockdown

Affordable housing scheme for middle income families with Rs 6 lakh to Rs 18 lakh annual income to be extended till March 2021: FM

Rs 30,000 crore additional emergency working capital fund to be provided through NABARD to small, marginal farmers: FM. 

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