NEW DELHI: As the country started on the path of phased exit from the lockdown on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led union government announced a series of policy decisions is aimed at helping the poor, farmers, and small traders which form the core support base of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The announcements were part of decisions taken at a Union cabinet meeting chaired by Modi earlier in the day.
Announcements included increasing the minimum support prices (MSP) of 14 kharif crops, providing 50-83% more than the cost of production to farmers, separate packages for distressed MSMEs (medium small and micro enterprises) and equity infusion through 'Funds of Funds' for the sector as well as a loan of ₹10,000 each to nearly 50 lakh street vendors under the Svanidhi or Street Vendors Aatmanirbhar Nidhi (self reliant fund).
The policy decisions are significant because farmers, street vendors and small traders are among the worst hit due to the nationwide lockdown that has been in place for more than two months.
"Historic decisions were taken in the meeting which will have a transformative impact on the lives of hardworking farmers of the country, MSMEs and street vendors. MSMEs form the backbone of Indian economy. More than 6 crore MSMEs work silently and contribute immensely for India to become self-reliant," union minister of information and broadcasting Prakash Javadekar told reporters at a press conference on Monday said.
The timing is also crucial given that states which have seen their migrant workers return because of the lockdown are banking on MSMEs to create job opportunities. While over 5.5 million labourers have returned to their homes in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Jharkhand is expecting over 1 million labourers and Madhya Pradesh is expecting 1.3 million.
Detailing the contours of the announcement, Union minister Nitin Gadkari said the union government will set up ₹10,000 crore fund, which, with leverage, will be able to finance equity infusion of about ₹50,000 crores in small businesses. The move is expected to expand size as well as capacity of MSMEs and will encourage them to get listed on domestic bourses, he added.
Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar too addressed the media briefing and said the government had extended the interest subvention scheme for farmers by another three months to 31 August which will provide a "big relief".
“We will give a detailed response tomorrow after going through the announcements but today I would like to say that the ₹20 lakh crore package announced by PM Modi. The package was not worth the hype. Out of that package, not a single penny has reached farmers, migrants, labourers, traders or salaried class. It seems as if the union government has accepted that they will not give any relief to common people," Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said when asked about the relief being provided.