Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman continued her press conference for the second day in a row to explain how the Rs 20 lakh crore economic stimulus package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be distributed to the people of India.
The second press conference focused on migrant workers, small farmers, street vendors, the finance minister announced. "Three steps for migrant workers, one related to street vendors, one for housing, one for tribal employment, and two related to small farmers is the highlight of this press briefing," Nirmala Sitharaman said.
The highlight of her PC was Rs 30,000 crore through NABARD, in addition to the already existing Rs 90,000 crore, to take care of the rabi harvest and post-harvest rabi-related work for small and marginal farmers. "This fund will also help in preparatory work for the kharif crop," she said, adding that this will benefit 3 crore farmers.
Furthermore, Rs 2 lakh crore concessional credit will be provided to 2 crore farmers across the country. "Although 2.5 crore farmers do not have the Kisan credit card, we are reaching out to them. This includes fishermen and animal husbandry farmers," she added.
So far, three crore farmers have availed of agriculture loans worth Rs 4 lakh crore. Those who have availed the credit have also been given a moratorium by the RBI," she said, adding that interest subvention and prompt repayment incentive on crop loans due from March 1 has been extended up to May 31.
While speaking of the urban poor, which includes the migrant workers, approximately Rs 11,000 crore has been allocated. "Shelter homes can be built with these funds for the homeless, along with the food and water. The cost is borne by the homeless. We are taking care of them," Nirmala Sitharaman said, highlighting that this was done in the past two months.
In addition, 12,000 self-help groups have produced 3 crore masks and 1.2 lakh litres of hand sanitisers. "These groups include urban poor and this shows their role in helping the nation," she said.
She also raised the concern about the migrant workers, who have been struggling to go home. "We have already increased the wage rate to Rs 202 per hour from Rs 180," she added.
The government has also permitted state governments to SDRF for setting up shelter for migrants and providing them food and water etc. "We are conscious, we are attending to the migrants and giving them in various different ways," the finance minister added.
Furthermore, the government has already generated 14.62 crore person-days of work till 13th May, which is 40-50% more persons enrolled as compared to last May. "Migrant workers going back to their states being actively enrolled," Nirmala Sitharaman said.
Currently, the minimum wage is only applicable to 30 per cent of the workers. "If there can be a national floor wage concept so that there is no disparity between wage workers. We are also looking to give workers an appointment letter, as well as provide them health insurance," she said.
The government has also introduced a number of new labour codes for the workers. However, several state governments, including Uttar Pradesh, have also announced new labour laws - something that has been questioned by labour organisations
The government has also introduced free food grains for all the migrant workers. "Five kg of wheat or rice individuals and a kg of pulses for card holders. However, non-card holders will also get 5 kg or wheat or rice, as well as 1 kg pulses," she said, adding that state governments will be the implementing agency and will have to identify the migrants.
While speaking of the PM Awaaz Yojna, migrant workers will have a rental housing scheme, the finance minister said that a lot of government-funded housings in major cities into affordable rental housing complexes. "This shall be done on a PPP mode," she said.
Street vendors getting a credit facility of Rs 5,000 crore, which will benefit 50 lakh street vendors through which they can immediately start their business. “We are giving an initial working capital of Rs 10,000,” she added.
The finance minister said that the lowest strung of middle class i.e. those earning between Rs 6 lakh and Rs 18 lakh will be provided a credit-linked subsidy scheme for affordable housing till March 2021. "Over 3.3 lakh families that have benefitted will see have an additional 2.5 lakh people will benefit," she said, adding that this will see a rise in demand in the real estate sector.
The government has also announced the One Nation, One Ration Card by August 1, 2020.
On Wednesday, Nirmala Sitharaman announced a series of changes including the new definition of MSMEs, as well as how India would take a step forward to establish the Aaroghya Bharat scheme that will put India on the world map as a country that makes world-class products.
While speaking about the tribal areas, the finance minister said Rs 6,000 campa funds have been allotted for tribal areas.