New Delhi: The government on Sunday announced an additional Rs 40,000 crore allocation for the rural employment guarantee scheme to help provide jobs to migrant workers returning home.
Announcing fifth and final tranche of the economic stimulus package, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the allocation for MGNREGS is being increased by Rs 40,000 crore over and above the Rs 61,000 cr budgeted earlier.
To deal with the economic fallout of COVID-19, the Centre increased borrowing limit for states from three to five per cent for 2020-21 only, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced on Sunday.
The decision comes after requests posed by various state governments, Sitharaman added.
"In view of the unprecedented situation, Centre has decided to increase borrowing limits of states from 3 per cent to 5 per cent of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) for 2020-21," Sitharaman said while announcing the last tranche of the economic package announced by the government.
She added that this will give the states extra resources of Rs 4.28 lakh crore.
Sitharaman announced that public expenditure on health will be increased and a dedicated hospital block for treatment of infectious diseases will be set up in each district across the nation.
"The public expenditure on health will be increased. Investment at grass root levels will be ramped up for health and wellness centres, both in rural and urban areas," she added.
In order to provide relief to the companies amid COVID-19 pandemic, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the decriminalisation of Companies Act defaults.
"Decriminalisation of Companies Act defaults; 7 compoundable offences altogether dropped and 5 to be dealt with under alternative framework. The amendment will de-clog the criminal courts and National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT)," Sitharaman said while announcing the last tranche of the economic package announced by the government.
Further speaking about changes being made in the Education sector in the wake of COVID-19, the Finance Minister said that the PM eVidya programme for multi-mode access to digital/online education will be launched immediately.
"This will consist of DIKSHA, a one-nation, one-digital platform facility for school education (one nation, one digital platform). One earmarked TV channel for each class (one class, one channel) will also be a part of this. There will be extensive use of radio, community radio stations and podcasts," she said.
The Finance Minister also announced a special e-content for visually and hearing-impaired children which will be made available in the coming days, she also lauded the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development for coming up with this plan.
"Top 100 universities will be permitted to automatically start online courses by May 30, 2020," she said.
She further spoke about 'Manodarpan', an initiative for psychological support of students, teachers and families for mental health and emotional well being to be launched in the next few days.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said around 12 lakh members of the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) withdrew Rs 3,360 crore retirement savings during the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
The EPFO, under the Union labour and employment ministry, has settled a total of 12 lakh claims under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) package.
The provision for a special withdrawal from the EPF Scheme to fight the COVID-19 pandemic is part of the PMGKY scheme announced by the government and an urgent notification on the matter was made to introduce a para 68 L (3) of the EPF Scheme on March 28, 2020.
The announcements came after the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a Rs 20 lakh crore stimulus package for the country to become 'self-reliant' and deal with COVID-19 crisis.
Sitharaman had on Saturday said that the Central government will introduce competition, transparency and private sector participation in the coal sector and will do infrastructure development of Rs 50,000 crore.
Earlier on Friday, Sitharaman announced Rs 1 lakh crore Agri Infrastructure Fund for farm gate infrastructure for farmers and Rs 10,000 crore scheme for the formalisation of Micro Food Enterprises (MFEs) under the stimulus package.
On Thursday, the Finance Minister announced the 'One Nation One Ration Card', free food grain supply to migrants and creation of affordable rental housing complexes (ARHC) in urban areas for migrant workers and poor under the COVID-19 stimulus package.