Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today announced a slew of measures including additional credit for small and medium businesses, more funds for the healthcare sector, loans to tourism agencies and guides, and waiver of visa fee for foreign tourists to boost the economy hit by the second wave of coronavirus pandemic.
“We are announcing about 8 economic relief measures, of which four are absolutely new and one is specific to health infrastructure,” informed Sitharaman.
Together with previously announced Rs 93,869 crore spending on providing free foodgrains to the poor till November and additional Rs 14,775 crore fertiliser subsidy, the stimulus package ~mostly made up of government guarantee to banks and microfinance institutions for loans extended to Covidhit sectors ~ totalled up to Rs 6.29 lakh crore.
While addressing the Press conference, the minister announced Rs. 1.1 lakh crore loan guarantee scheme for Covid-affected sectors. Under the scheme Rs. 50,000 crore would be for the health sector and Rs. 60,000 crore for other sectors.
The scheme, minister said, will scale up medical infrastructure targeting the underserved areas. Guarantee cover for expansion and new projects related to health/medical infrastructure in cities other than 8 metropolitan cities.
It will include both public and private hospitals who will be to avail maximum loan of Rs. 100 crore with a guarantee duration of up to 3 years.
In another announcement, the government announced Rs 23,220 crore more primarily focussing on children and paediatric care.
The amount will be spent this financial year itself. The FM also informed to enlarge the scope of ECLGS (Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme) by providing an additional spending limit of Rs 1.5 lakh crore. Accordingly, the overall cap of admissible guarantee under the scheme has been raised from Rs 3 lakh crore announced in May 2020 to Rs 4.5 lakh crore now.
So far in three packages, credit disbursal of Rs 2.69 lakh crore has already been given to 1.1 crore units by banks and NBFCs. Contact intensive sectors already covered under the scheme will continue to get funding.
So far Rs 4,000 crore given to these sectors through the window.
The tourism sector which impacted the most due to covid got a relief from the government. The minister announced the financial support to more than 11,000 registered tourist guides/travel and tourism stakeholders.
The scheme will cover 10,700 regional level tourist guides recognised by the ministry of tourism and those recognised by state governments.
It will also cover travel and tourism stakeholders (TTS) recognised by the ministry of tourism.
“Loans will be provided with 100 per cent guarantee up to Rs 10 lakh for TTS and Rs 1 lakh for tourist guides licensed at regional or state level,” informed the minister.
Along with it, she also announced the free tourist visas to first 5 lakh tourist.
The scheme will be applicable till 31 March, 2022 or till 5,00,000 visas are issued, whichever is earlier. To incentivize job creation, the government committed to paying the employer and employee’s share to provident fund (PF) for all new recruitments done till March 2022. Previously, the government paid Rs 902 crore for 21.42 lakh beneficiaries of 79,577 establishments.
The government also extended the Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana till 31 March 2022 and Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKYAY) till November 2021.
The FM announced Rs. 3.03 lakh crore to revamp reform-based, result-linked power distribution scheme of financial assistance to DISCOMS for infrastructure creation, up-gradation of system and process improvement. She also announced Rs. 19,041 crore for BharatNet to improve the broadband connectivity to all villages.