Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said the government will pay the EPF (Employees' Provident Fund) contribution both of the employer and the employee (10 per cent each) for the next three months in wake of coronavirus outbreak. This scheme will be applicable for organisation with up to 100 employees, where 90 per cent of employees draw less than Rs 15,000 salary.
"Government of India will pay the EPF contribution - of both employer and employee (10% each) - for the next three months, so that nobody suffers due to loss of continuity in EPF contribution," she said.
The FM said that the provident fund scheme regulations will be amended which will allow workers under EPFO to draw up to 75 per cent of their non-refundable advance or 3 months of wages, whichever is lower. This scheme will benefit 4.8 crore workers registered with EPFO (Employees' Provident Fund Organisation), she added.
FM Sitharaman also announced Rs 1.7 lakh crore relief package under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana for the economy hit by coronavirus. According to her, 80 crore people will benefit from this scheme.
Among others, she announced an insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh per person to frontline health workers - ASHA workers, paramedics, doctors, nurses, sanitary workers - who are putting their lives at risk and treating coronavirus patients.
She also announced one-time amount of Rs 1,000 for senior citizens, widows and divyang people, in two installments over the next three months.
"20 crore woman Jan Dhan account holders to be given ex-gratia amount of 500 rupees per month for the next three months, to run the affairs of their household," she said.
The FM also announced that Self Help Groups (SHGs) can now obtain collateral-free loans up to Rs 20 lakh, which is likely to benefit 63 lakh SHGs and have an impact on 7 crore households.
By Chitranjan Kumar