New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman here on Monday announced a stimulus package of over Rs 6 lakh crore to provide loans to COVID-19-affected sectors, emergency credit to small businessmen and free visas to tourists, enhance health infrastructure and extend employment scheme among others for uplifting the severely battered economy.
Addressing a press conference here, Ms Sitharaman said, ''We are announcing about eight economic relief measures, of which four are absolutely new and one is specific to health infrastructure.''
She announced Rs 1.1 lakh crore loan guarantee scheme for COVID-19 affected sectors, of which Rs 50,000 crore was allotted to the health sector for upscaling medical infrastructure with a focus on underserved areas and Rs 60,000 crore for other sectors.
A new Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme of Rs 1.5 lakh crore was announced to facilitate loans to 25 lakh persons through Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs).
''Under the new credit guarantee scheme, 25 lakh people will be benefitted. The loan will be given to the smallest borrowers by microfinance institutions. A maximum Rs 1.25 lakh amount will be lent. Focus is on new lending and not on repayment of old loans,'' she said.
The interest rate under the new scheme will be two per cent below the RBI prescribed rate, with a loan duration of three years. "New loans, stressed borrowers except NPAs will be covered," she underlined.The scheme also aims to reach the smallest of the small borrowers in the hinterland, including in small towns.
To revive one of the most affected tourism sectors, Ms Sitaraman announced financial support to more than 11,000 registered tourist guides or travel and tourism stakeholders.Under new Loan Guarantee Scheme for COVID Affected Sectors, working capital or personal loans will be provided to people in the tourism sector to discharge liabilities and restart businesses impacted due to COVID-19.
''Working capital or personal loans will be provided with a 100 per cent guarantee to people in the tourism sector. No processing charges, waiver of prepayment charges,'' she said.In another announcement, first five lakh tourists will be given visas free of charge. "Benefit will be available only once per tourist.The scheme will be applicable till March 31, 2022, or till 5 lakh visas are issued, whichever is earlier,'' the Union Finance Minister said.
Over employment, Ms Sitaraman announced the extension of Atmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana from June 30, 2021, to March 31, 2022.
''Since October 2020, about 21.42 lakh beneficiaries of 79,577 establishments have been benefitted from the scheme,'' the Union Finance Minister said.Providing more support to the health sector, Ms Sitaraman allotted Rs 23,220 crore more for public health.
''Rs 23,220 crore for public health, with a sharp focus on child and pediatric care. It will include HR augmentation to rope in medical students, nurses; strengthening of infra like ICU beds, ambulances, O2 supply, equipment, medicines,'' she said.
Union Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur, who was also present in the press conference, announced Rs 15,000 crore subsidy on protein-based fertilizer for farmers.
Detailing the other expenditure, Mr Thakur said the financial expenditure on the free distribution of ration to poor people this year will be Rs 93,869 crore while the total money spent on Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana will be Rs 2,27,841 crore.(UNI)