Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana
- On 26th March, 2020, the government announced Rs 1.70 Lakh Crore relief package under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) for the poor to help them fight the battle against Coronavirus.
- The relief measures are intended at reaching out to the poorest of the poor, with food and money in hands, so that they do not face difficulties in buying essential supplies and meeting essential needs.
Key Components of PMGKY
Health Related Interventions
- Insurance scheme for health workers fighting COVID-19 in Government Hospitals and Health Care Centres
- Safai karamcharis, ward-boys, nurses, ASHA workers, paramedics, technicians, doctors and specialists and other health workers would be covered by a Special insurance Scheme.
- Any health professional, who while treating Covid-19 patients, meet with some accident, then he/she would be compensated with an amount of Rs. 50 lakh under the scheme.
- All government health centres, wellness centres and hospitals of Centre as well as States would be covered under this scheme approximately 22 lakh health workers would be provided insurance cover to fight this pandemic.
Food Related Relief Measures
PM Garib Kalyan Ann (अन्न) Yojana
- 800 million poor people in the country to get 5 kg of rice/wheat per month free of cost, in addition to the 5 kg they already get.
- Additionally, each household to get 1 kg of preferred dal for free for the next three months These pulses would be provided free of cost by the Government of India.
Direct Benefit Transfer
- Farmers: To provide a benefit to 8.69 crore farmers, Rs 2,000 (on top of Rs 6,000) will be given as a front-load under the Kisan Samman Nidhi programme. The amount will be credited to the farmer’s bank account by the 1st week of April, 2020.
- Women with Jan Dhan Yojana Accounts: A total of 20.40 crores PMJDY women account-holders would be given an ex-gratia of Rs. 500 per month for next three months.
- Beneficiaries of Ujjwala Scheme: 80 million households benefitted from the gas cylinders provided under the scheme. These beneficiaries will get free cylinders for three months in view of the disruption the coronavirus lockdown will cause.
- Organised Sector Workers: Under PMGKY, the Government will pay the EPF contribution for both employer and employee (12% each totalling to 24%) for the next three months. Around 80 lakh employees and 4 lakh establishments will benefit from this move. This benefit is available for all those establishments with up to 100 employees and where 90% of those employees draw a salary of less than Rs 15,000 per month.
- The EPFO scheme regulations will also be amended to allow the non-refundable advance of 75% of the fund or three months’ salary, whichever is lower. Around 4.8 crores registered EPFO workers will benefit from this amendment.
- Support for Senior Citizens , Widows and Divyang: Ex-gratia of Rs 1,000 for the next three months, in two instalments. 30 million people to benefit. transfers to be done through direct benefits transfer (DBT)
- MNREGA Workers: MNREGA wages would be increased by Rs 20 with effect from 1 April, 2020. Wage increase under MNREGA will provide an additional Rs 2,000 benefit annually to a worker. This will benefit approximately 13.62 crore families.
- Self-Help Groups:3 million SHGs get up to Rs 10 lakh collateral-free loans under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya National Rural Mission scheme. The cap has been doubled to Rs 20 lakh. The move will benefit 70 million households
- Construction Workers Welfare Fund: Welfare Fund for Building and Other Constructions Workers has been created under a Central Government Act. State Governments will be given directions to utilise this fund to provide assistance and support to these workers to protect them against economic disruptions.
- District Mineral Fund: The State Government will be asked to utilise the funds available under District Mineral Fund (DMF) for supplementing and augmenting facilities of medical testing, screening and other requirements in connection with preventing the spread of CVID-19 pandemic as well as treating the patients affected with this pandemic.
Source: Times of India
- Financial package will go long way in ensuring food, livelihood security of poor and vulnerable sections of the society.
- Further, it will address the concerns of the poor and all those medical and paramedical staff who are in the frontline of the coronavirus crisis tackling the pandemic.
Concerns and Challenges
- The main problem for poor and vulnerable households today is liquidity stress. Every day’s loss of work for them means cutting down even basic consumption and going deeper into debt. Free grain can help, but does not address the real crisis, which is of liquidity. They need cash to buy essential things other than just food — and most of them had it till the other day.
- The effectiveness of the relief measures will be more in states with well-functioning PDS. That is, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh and Odisha — but not Uttar Pradesh or Bihar, dealing with issues like corruptions and wide prevalence of pilferage/ leakage of rations into the open market.
- As for MNREGA workers, the onus for paying that under the Act is, however, on the state governments. It is unlikely they would make the necessary budgetary provision.
- A crucial element missing in the package is support for any immediate and urgent provision to provide cooked food in a manner that maintains the objective of physical distancing while at the same time reaching food to the most needy.
- The government’s announcement also lacked details on how the programmes would be implemented given the lockdown and need for social distancing.