Agriculture, housing sector get big Central fiscal boost under stimulus package

New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tried to assuage the economic concerns of farmers, workers and street vendors on Thursday with a mega package offering everything — loans, interest subventions and cheap housing.

On the second day of detailing the mega Rs 20 lakh-crore economic package under the Centre’s ‘Self-Reliant India Movement’ which was earlier announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the minister doled out massive loan components for agriculture and the housing sector.

For regulatory relief, the minister talked about implementing the “one nation, one ration card” system. This system will allow national portability of ration cards throughout the country using technological intervention.

Besides, she assured the workers that the right to universal minimum wages is on the Centre’s agenda. She said the Centre is committed to universal minimum wage and other facilities for workers in the country. At present, the legislative bill for the new labour code is pending in Parliament.

The Centre will launch a scheme under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana for the migrant labour and the urban poor to build affordable rental housing facilities for them. Sitharaman said that under the scheme, government-funded housing in different cities will be converted into affordable rental housing complexes under the public-private partnership mode.

The government will also incentivise manufacturing units, industries, institutions and associations to develop affordable rental housing complexes on private land and operate them.

Additionally, the FM announced that the Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS ) for middle income groups to buy affordable housing units will be extended till March 31, 2021. The scheme was last extended till March 2020. According to Sitharaman the extension will benefit 2.5 lakh middle income families. So far, the scheme has benefited 3.3 lakh middle class families, she added.

The Finance Minister said it will lead to an investment of Rs 70,000 crore in the housing sector and also create jobs.

For street vendors, the FM announced a Rs 5,000 crore ‘Special Credit Facility’. This scheme will be launched within a month to facilitate easy access to credit to street vendors. It intends to provide initial working capital of up to Rs 10,000 and is ex pected to support nearly 50 lakh street vendors.

In terms of fiscal stimulus, the Centre came out with Rs 2 lakh-crore concessional credit boost to 2.5 crore farmers through Kisan Credit Cards. This plan envisions enabling farmers to gain access to institutional credit at concessional interest rates.

The minister also announced a measure to provide free food-grain supply to migrants for 2 months.

In addition, a Rs 1,500-crore ‘Interest Subvention Scheme for MUDRA-Shishu’ loans was also announced. On Wednesday, the FM had listed out 15 new and some enhanced measures to revive businesses, and support workers via fiscal incentives and regulatory easing under the mega stimulus package. She had announced a slew of fiscal and regulatory measures for MSMEs, real estate, NBFCs, power distribution and general businesses and workers.

These announcements were made a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a mega stimulus package which will take the total amount announced by the Ministry of Finance and the RBI to a total of Rs 20 lakh crore or 10 per cent of the GDP.

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