STIMULUS package focuses on MGNREGA, healthcare, education, business, de-criminalization of Companies Act, ease of doing business, PSUs, says FM Sitharaman


Spelling out the fifth and last tranche of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s one lakh crore rupee package to aid the pandemic stressed economy, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on May 17. The government provides a much bigger role to the private sector along with PSUs for India’s economic revival. Reforms will be the focus of the economic stimulus package. It will be focused on MGNREGA, healthcare, education, businesses, de-criminalisation of the Companies Act, ease of doing business, public sector undertakings, and resources related to state government. During the coronavirus-induced lockdown, Rs 16,394 crore has been paid to 8.19 crore farmers under the Rs 2,000 free cash dole scheme of PM Kisan, she said. Old-age beneficiaries and others have been paid the first instalment of Rs 1,405 crore and the second one of Rs 1,402 crore.FM Sitharaman said, under the MNREGA scheme, an additional 40 thousand crore rupees will be allocated for employment generation in the rural parts of the country. This will help generate nearly 300 crore person-days to provide relief to the migrant workers. On the Health reforms and initiatives taken to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, she said, public expenditure will be increased and Health and Wellness Centres in rural and urban areas will be ramped up. Infectious diseases hospital blocks in all districts and integrated public health labs in all districts and block level will be set up to prepare India for the future pandemic. She said National Digital Health blueprint will be implemented under the National Digital Health Mission.  PM-e-Vidya programme for multi-mode access to digital online education will be launched immediately and it will consist of e-content and QR coded textbooks for all grades. One TV channel per class from 1 to 12 will be operated and extensive use of Radio and Community Radio will be made. Top 100 universities will be permitted to automatically start online courses by 30th May of this month. She said, an initiative by the name of Manodarpan will be launched immediately for psychological support of students, teachers and their family for mental health and emotional well-being, she said. As much as Rs 10,025 crore has been transferred to 20 crore women Jan Dhan account holders. Also, 6.81 free LPG cylinders have been given to the poor. Last week, the government pledged a Rs 20 lakh crore equivalent to 10 per cent of GDP package to support the economy headed for its first full-year contraction in more than four decades. This included March 27 announcement of Rs 1.7 lakh crore package of free foodgrain and cash to poor for three months and the Reserve Bank of India’s Rs 5.6 lakh crore worth of liquidity measures since March. Further to this, the government last week announced a cumulative package of Rs 10.73 lakh crore, mostly in liquidity measures with negligible extra-budget spending. The measures included a variety of steps for small businesses, street vendors, farmers and poor migrants as well as shadow banks and electricity distributors, but they have largely been either credit guarantee schemes or new fund creations to be shouldered by banks and financial institutions. The government’s cash outgo is limited to a maximum of Rs 18,500 crore on free foodgrain and affordable housing to migrant workers as well as limited tax relief and marginal dole to some companies on employee retiral benefits. The government has hiked FDR  limit in defence manufacturing and opened up space and more facilities to the private sector in coal mining, mineral block auction. The private sector will now be allowed for power distribution.

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