Nirmala Sitharaman announces Atmanirbhar Bharat 3.0 details, launches new job scheme; Highlights from press conference

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said that strong signs of economic recovery are now visible. "In the last 10-15 days, many indicators have shown recovery is happening," Nirmala Sitharaman said.

Addressing a press conference to announce more stimulus measures to boost growth, she said macro-economic indicators are pointing towards recovery. She noted that COVID-19 active cases have declined from over 10 lakh to 4.89 lakh with case fatality rate (CFR) at 1.47 per cent.

Giving out details of recovery, she said composite purchasing managers index (PMI) rose to 58.9 per cent in October versus 54.6 per cent in the previous month, registering strongest increase in output in close to nine years.

Giving details of the progress made on the previous stimulus announcements under Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan, Sitharaman said 28 states/union territories (UTs) have been brought under the national portability of ration cards with effect from September 1.

This now covers 68.6 crore beneficiaries who now have an option to lift their food grains from any fair-price shops (FPS) of their choice in any of these 28 states/UTs, she said.

Intra-state portability is also enabled in these 28 states/UTs, she said adding 1.5 crore monthly transactions are happening.

Under PM Street Vendor's AtmaNirbhar Nidhi, 26.62 lakh loan applications were received out of which 13.78 lakh loans totalling Rs 1,373.33 crore were sanctioned. The Finance Minister said credit boost to 2.5 crore farmers has been achieved through Kisan Credit Cards (KCCs).

Nirmala Sitharaman during the press conference announced another stimulus package, as a part of Atmanirbhar Bharat 3.0.

Aatmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana:

Sitharaman during the press conference announced new Aatmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana to incentivise creation of new employment during COVID-19 recovery phase. "Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Protsahan Yojana was implemented up to 31.03.2019. It had covered all sectors & is expected to run for 3 years. So even if someone joined the scheme on 31.03.2019, they would be covered under that existing scheme from then three years," she said.

New employees hired by EPFO-registered organisations to get benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"If a company hires a new employee who lost job between 1 March and September 30, 2020, or was not covered under EPFO earlier, certain benefits will be provided," Finance Minister added.

The scheme will cover any new employee joining employment in EPFO-registered establishment on monthly wages less than Rs 15,000.

Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme:

Nirmala Sitharaman also announced that the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECGLS) has been extended till March 31, 2021. The government has also extended the ECGLS to all stressed sectors.

"Guaranteed credit support for 26 stressed sectors identified by the Kamath Committee. Original ECLGS had one year of moratorium and 4 years of repayment, the new scheme will have 1-year moratorium and 5 years of repayment," Sitharaman said.

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna:

The finance minister announced a Rs 18,000 crore additonal outlay for the urban housing scheme to help complete real estate projects that would create jobs and boost the economy.

She said the Rs 18,000 crore would be provided over and above the Budget Estimates for 2020-21 for the Prime Minister Awas Yojana (Urban) through additional allocation and extra budgetary resources. This is over and above Rs 8,000 crore already provided this year.

She said the move would help start work on 12 lakh houses as well as complete 18 lakh houses. This would create 78 lakh new jobs as well as demand for steel and cement.

Tax relief on sale of housing units:

Nirmala Sitharaman announced relaxations in income tax rules to allow sale of primary residential units of up to Rs 2 crore value below the circle rate. Till now, only 10 per cent difference between the circle rate and the agreement value was allowed.

To boost residential real estate sector, she said the differential has now been increased to 20 per cent for period up to June 30, 2021 for only primary sale of residential units of value up to Rs 2 crore. "This measure will reduce harships faced by both home-buyers and developers and help in clearing the unsold inventory," she said.

Boost For Project Exports:

Sitharaman announced that Rs 3,000 crore to be given to EXIM Bank for promotion of project exports through line of credit under IDEAS scheme. "Rs 3,000 crores will be released to EXIM Bank for promotion of project exports through Lines of Credit under IDEAS Scheme. Supported projects cover Railways, power, transmission, road and transport, auto and auto components, sugar projects etc," she said.

Covid Suraksha Mission:

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that Rs 900 crore to be provided for research and development for Covid-19 vaccine to the Biotechnology Department. The money will directly go to the biotechnology department and will strictly be used for research activity.

Infusion Of Equity In National Investment and Infrastructure Fund:

Rs 6,000 crore equity infusion will be done in NIIF debt platform for funding infrastructure. It will provide infrastructure project financing to the tune of Rs 1,10,000 crore.

"We are now giving Rs 6000 Crores of Equity to Debt Platform of NIIF where private equity participation will also come in. NIIF itself has invested Rs 2000 crore. So, by 2025 they will have to fund projects to the extent of Rs 1,10,000 Crores. We are creating this avenue for them to do it even through the debt market," Sitharaman said.

Fertilizer subsidy for farmers:

The finance minister also announced a Rs 65,000-crore fertilizer subsidy for farmers as part of her stimulus package to boost the economy. She said Rs 65,000 crore is being provided to ensure adequate availability of fertilisers to farmers and to enable timely accessibility of fertilisers in the upcoming crop season. She said an additional outlay of Rs 10,000 crore will be provided for PM Garib Kalyan Rozgar Yojana in the current financial year.

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