Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman held a press conference at 1pm on Thursday. It is her second address to the media within a matter of a week. The Finance Minister is expected to announce a much-anticipated relief package for the coronavirus-hit economy. In her previous press conference Finance Minister had said that an economic package was being looked at and might be announced sooner than later. Industry leaders and workers are looking up to the package as businesses have taken a severe beating amid the nationwide lockdown, which will be over 20 days from now.
Follow Nirmala Sitharaman press conference updates here:
2:12pm: While DBT transfers will put a lot of pressure on banks, MHA has now announced banking services as essential and will remain operational and will be exempted from the lockdown: FM Sitharaman
2:07pm: Today's measures are aimed at people who are immediate need of food, money and cooking gas, said FM Sitharaman.
2:05pm: These announcements will be implemented immediately, said FM Sitharaman.
2:01pm: Request state governments to utilise district mineral funds for coronavirus testing and medicines: FM Sitharaman
1:58pm: Workers' welfare fund of Rs 31,000 crore to be utilised for construction workers. We plan to direct state governments to help 3.5 crore construction workers to this end: FM Sitharaman
1:53pm: This will benefit 4.8 crore workers -- The PF scheme regulations will be amended because of coronavirus to allow employees to draw non-refundable advance of 75% of amount standing to credit or 3 months wages, whichever is lower: FM Sitharaman
1:50pm: Under PM Gareeb Kalyan, govt will pay the EPF contribution for both employer and employee for the next 3 months. This is for establishments with upto 100 employees where 90 per cent earn less than Rs 15,000 per month: FM Sitharaman
1:48pm: Under National Rural Livelihood Mission scheme collateral loans will be doubled to Rs 20 lakh for women: FM Sitharaman
1:45pm: Ujjwala Scheme women will be given free cylinders for the next 3 months. This will benefit 8.3 crore BPL families: FM Sitharaman
1:44pm: Women Jan Dhan account holders will receive Rs 500 in their accounts so that they can take care of their households. This will happen for the next 3 months: FM
1:42pm: The Finance Minister said that 8.69 crore farmers will be immediately benefited through Direct cash transfers. Installment of Rs 2000 in the first week of April will be transferred.
1:40pm: Per person 5kg rice or 5kg wheat for free for 3 months; 1kg of pulse per household as per to regional preference: FM Sitharaman
1:39pm: Rs 2,000 to be transferred to immediately in first week of April to farmers: FM Sitharaman
1:38pm: Cash transfer to touch upon:
1:35pm: The Finance Minister announces 5kg of rice or wheat free of cost for the needy.
1:30pm: "No one will go hungry. The PM Gareeb Kalyan Scheme package is worth Rs 1.7 lakh crore": Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman
1:26pm: Finance Minister thanks the front line workers and expresses her gratitude to ASHA workers, doctors, sanitary workers, para-medics. She announces a insurance cover for them of Rs 50 lakh per person.
1:20pm: Govt is working to help those affected, especially migrant workers. We have come with a welfare package to help poor and the ones who need immediate help: FM Sitharaman.
1:15pm: QUICK RECAP -- Rs 15,000 crore to health workers
PM Modi announced Rs 15,000 crore to strengthen the health infrastructure in India. In his address to the nation, PM Modi said that the fund will be used for developing health infrastructure in the country, increasing the number of beds, testing kits, and even training of professionals to combat the disease.
1:05pm: QUICK RECAP -- DBT to construction workers
The Ministry of Labour stated that it would utilise the cess fund of Rs 52,000 crore to provide relief to the construction workers through direct benefit transfer (DBT). There are 3.5 crore construction workers registered with construction welfare boards.
1:00pm: Sonia Gandhi bats for deferring of EMIs
Sonia Gandhi has written to PM Modi urging the government to defer EMIs for 6 months. "Centre might consider deferring all EMIs for 6 months; interest charged by banks for this period may consequently be waived. All loan installment deductions from salaries of government employees may also be deferred for six months," wrote Sonia Gandhi.
12:55pm: QUICK RECAP -- GST filing deadline extended
In her last press conference, the FM announced that the last date for filing GST returns for March, April and May was extended to June 30. The previous date for filing of GST returns was March 31, 2020. The deadline for composition returns on GST was also extended to June 30.
12:50pm: QUICK RECAP -- No charge on ATM transaction
The minister announced in her last press conference that all debit card holders can withdraw cash from any bank free of charge. This was announced as the nation was going under lockdown and people could only withdraw cash from their nearest bank or ATM.
12:48pm: QUICK RECAP -- Income Tax deadline extended
The Finance Minister announced that the income tax filing deadline has been extended due to coronavirus. The deadline which was earlier March 31, will now be June 30.
12:45pm: QUICK RECAP -- PAN-Aadhaar linking deadline extended
In her last press conference, Finance Minister Sitharaman announced a slew of measures to help tackle the coronavirus impact. She extended the linking deadline of PAN and Aadhaar card from March 31 to June 30.
12:40pm: Ministry of Finance announced that the Finance Minister will hold a press conference at 1pm