Home / News / India1,610-crore relief for those hardest-hit by lockdown in Karnataka

BENGALURU : The Karnataka government has announced a 1,610 crore relief package for people who have been the hardest hit by the lockdown, including flower growers, washermen and women, barbers, construction workers, auto and cab drivers, MSMEs, and weavers.

“We are stopping all development activities and prioritising this," chief minister BS Yediyurappa said.

Karnataka, like the rest of the country, is gradually exiting the covid-19-induced lockdown that has brought economic activity to a near standstill since 24 March.

With limited avenues for revenue, states have been forced to make difficult and unpopular choices that further place the burden on the taxpayer in the battle against the pandemic outbreak.

Kerala has passed an ordinance to defer up to 25% of state government employees’ salaries for six months.

Some states claim not to have money to pay salaries.

Yediyurappa hiked the excise duty on alcohol by an additional 11% to make up for revenue shortfalls and the reduction in the GST compensation and other central taxes. Coupled with the 6% duty announced in March, the overall hike ranges from 17% to 25%, the government said.

Karnataka is also looking to cut and reprioritise expenditure to help the most vulnerable sections.

The state government announced 25,000 per hectare compensation for flower growers and said it is trying to assess losses suffered by vegetable and fruit farmers.

The state government will provide a one-time compensation of 5,000 each to about 60,000 washers, 230,000 barbers and 775,000 auto and taxi drivers.

“The monthly fixed charges of electricity bills of MSMEs will be waived for two months," said the chief minister. He added that the state government will also defer payment of fixed charges in electricity bills of large industries without penalty and interest for two months.

Yediyurappa said that 3,000 each, in addition to the 2,000 announced earlier, will be given to 1.58 million construction workers.

Though the state government announced the relief, there is little clarity on how it will implement these measures since most of the migrant labourers in Bengaluru and other parts are unregistered with the government.

Karnataka had announced a 109 crore loan waiver for weavers. The state government said it will release a pending 80 crore at the earliest. The government also announced a Weaver Samman Yojana, under which it would deposit 2,000 directly into the bank account of handloom weavers through DBT. This will benefit about 54,000 handloom weavers in the state.

The CM said the money will be transferred within a week.

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