A press conference took place on 26th March 2020 which was chaired by the Honorable Union Finance Minister Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman and the Minister of State Mr. Anurag Thakur. The meeting started with Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman who addressed the nation by telling them about the direct and indirect measures taken by the government of India for the poor, migrant workers, women, and the disadvantaged who have been worse affected by the pandemic caused.
Since the lockdown which was commenced from the night of 24th March 2020, the government has reached out with tangible assistance and help. The government has come up with a relief package that aims at immediate benefit and takes care of the welfare concerns of the poor and suffering workers who need immediate help.
The government has launched a scheme ‘Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Yojana’ under which 1.75 lakh crore will be spent to help the poorest of people and other poor sections of the society as mentioned above.
Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman announced two sets of measures
Direct Cash Transfer
Food security related issues
She said that the government doesn’t want anyone to remain hungry and they will be providing enough to meet their basic meal and protein requirements in the form of pulses etc. She also showed her concern about people who should not be left out of with no money in their hands. She showed her gratitude towards the frontline soldiers (doctors, nurses, police, etc.) who are risking their lives daily and not worrying about their health to save and treat the coronavirus patients.
Let us take a look at some of the information covered in the press conference
The government of India under the scheme ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana’ has promised to give 5 kgs of wheat or rice per person for the next three months who belong to poor households. The government will also give 1 kg of pulses according to the regional preference to each poor household.
Now let’s talk about the direct benefit to the workers. She made two announcements for the organized sector of India.
The government of India will pay the Employee Provident Fund Contribution for both Employees and Employers which is 12% each (12%- Employer and 12% Employee) that makes a total of 24% for the next three months so that nobody suffers.
The government has come up with this relief due to the loss of continuity in Employee's Provident Fund Contribution and the difficulties that will be faced later in the coming hard times.
Note: The above relaxation applies to people who are registered under the Employee Provident Fund Registration or EPF Registration.
The above relaxation is for those establishments which have up to 100 employees and 90% of the employees drawing less than Rs. 15000 as their salary. This scheme is expected to benefit 80 lakh workers and 4 lakh establishments.
The second set of announcements relates to the fund in their Employees Provident Fund accounts. The regulations that govern the Employees Provident Fund Organization scheme will be amended due to the pandemic situation. The workers can draw up to 75% from their fund for meeting their expenditures as a non-refundable advance which they are allowed to take or as three months wages/salary whichever is lower.
This scheme is expected to benefit 4.80 lakh crore workers registered under the Employees Provident Fund Registration.