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Reviving Economy: 2nd tranche of relief focuses on poor, migrants, farmers

2nd tranche of relief focuses on poor, migrants, farmers

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2nd tranche of relief focuses on poor, migrants, farmers
2nd tranche of relief focuses on poor, migrants, farmers

In News: 2nd tranche of relief focuses on poor, migrants, farmers

  • In the second set of measures of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan stimulus package, the government focused on the poor migrants, farmers and the lower middle class.
  • The announcements included affordable rental housing facility for migrant workers, free food grains for those without ration cards and loan schemes for farmers and street vendors.
  • The measures come against the backdrop of the movement of millions of workers from large industrial hubs such as Delhi, Maharashtra and Gujarat to the less affluent states they come from.
  • The package could see an outflow of up to Rs 3.2 lakh crore, although the impact on the budget may be only Rs 5,000 crore.
  • In doing so, the government is trying to balance the need to provide help to the vulnerable sections with the imperative to maintain control over the fiscal situation.

Second set of announcements under Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan:

Free food grains for migrants:

  • Over the past month, migrant workers and others without ration cards have struggled without access food.
  • Thus, migrants who don’t have ration cards will get 5 kg of wheat or rice per person and 1 kg of pulses per family for May and June each, with the cost working out to around Rs 3,500 crore.
  • The move to provide free food grain for migrant workers is an extension of the Pradhan Mantri Gharib Kalyan Yojana, which provided benefits to 80 crore people with ration cards covered by the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
  • The Finance Minister said that there are an estimated 8 crore migrant workers who have been housed in government and privately run relief camps across the country since the lockdown.
  • The Union government will engage with the State governments to locate these migrants and provide them the announced benefits.

Extension of PMAY scheme:

  • Another big announcement was the decision to launch affordable rental housing complexes or workers’ hostels, meant to provide social security to the urban poor and students, under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) scheme.
  • The immediate impetus for the scheme for residential complexes for migrants came from their harassment by landlords and the problem their departure from industrial hubs might cause for the objective of early resumption of economic normalcy.
  • Both public and private agencies will be incentivized to build rental housing on government and private land, while existing government housing will be converted into rental units.
  • The credit linked subsidy scheme for lower middle class housing under PMAY will also be extended by one year to March 2021, and is likely to benefit 2.2 lakh more families.
  • The FM also expressed hope that this would also create jobs and stimulate demand for the steel, cement and construction industries.

MGNREGA work:

  • For returning migrants who have no means of livelihood back in their home villages, State governments have been directed to enroll them under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.
  • The Finance Minister said the government had managed to generate about 14.6 crore person-days of work and offered work to 2.33 crore wage-seekers till May 13.
  • She further highlighted that wages under the scheme have been raised to a national average of Rs 202 per day against Rs 182 per day in the last financial year.
  • Incidentally, this revision in MNREGS wages was notified on March 23, a day before the first phase of the lockdown.

Miscellaneous measures:

  • Small businesses who have taken loans under the MUDRA-Shishu scheme, meant for loans worth ₹50,000 or less, will receive a 2% interest subvention relief for the next year, which will cost the government ₹1,500 crore.
  • Street vendors who have been hit hard by the lockdown will be given access to easy credit through a ₹5,000 crore scheme, which will offer ₹10,000 loans for initial working capital. The scheme will be launched within a month and will benefit 50 lakh vendors.
  • The Centre plans a drive to enroll 2.5 crore farmers who are not yet part of the Kisan Credit Cards scheme, along with fish workers and livestock farmers, and provide them with ₹2 lakh crore worth of concessional credit.
  • NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) will also extend additional refinance support worth ₹30,000 crore to rural banks for crop loans.

Roll out of One Nation One Ration card:

  • The FM also announced the rollout of the ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ project, however, this is still under works, and a nationwide integration is not likely before March next year.
  • While the Centre had hoped to roll out the project by June 1 this year, only 17 states and UTs have come on board so far.
  • By August 2020, 67 crore beneficiaries in 23 states, or 83% of the PDS population, will be covered under One Nation One Ration Card. The scheme would cover 100% beneficiaries by March 2021.

About: One Nation, One Ration Card (ONORC) scheme

  • Under the National Food Security Act, 2013, about 81 crore persons are entitled to buy subsidized food grain from their designated Fair Price Shops (FPS) of the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).
  • Currently, about 23 crore ration cards have been issued to nearly 80 crore beneficiaries of NFSA in all states and UTs.
  • In the present system, a ration cardholder can buy food grains only from an FPS that has been assigned to her in the locality in which she lives.
  • However, under the ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ system, the beneficiary will be able to buy subsidized food grains from any FPS across the country.

Functioning of the ONORC scheme:

  • Ration card portability is aimed at providing intra-state as well as inter-state portability of ration cards.
  • The new system, based on a technological solution, will identify a beneficiary through biometric authentication on electronic Point of Sale (ePoS) devices installed at the FPSs, and enable that person to purchase the entitled quantity of food grains.
  • While the Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IM-PDS) portal provides the technological platform for the inter-state portability of ration cards, the Annavitran portal enables a migrant worker or his family to avail the benefits of PDS outside their district but within their state.

Performance of the scheme:

  • The facility of inter-state ration card portability is available in 17 states as of now but the number of transactions done through using this facility has been low so far.
  • As per the data available on the Annavitaran portal, about one crore transactions took place using the facility last month. It means that usage of intra-state ration card portability are way higher than the inter-state portability.

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