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Sitharaman unveils Rs 1.7 lakh crore package for poor amid Covid-19 crisis

  
  
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  Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, at a press conference in the capital, announced a series of measures for the poor to help them deal with the coronavirus crisis. (By Our Staff Reporter) To address the immediate economic distress in the wake of the lockdown prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and ensure food and cash reaches the marginalised segments of society, the government announced a Rs 1,70,000 crore package, under a new scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana (PMGKBY), on Thursday.Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, at a press conference in the capital, announced a series of measures, which focused on additional food transfers at no cost, additional cash for vulnerable segments, concessions on government schemes aimed to help households reduce their expenditure, and support those in the frontline of the battle against the pandemic. The primary beneficiaries of these measures include those below the poverty line, farmers, women, elderly citizens, the physically challenged, and workers in both the unorganised and organised sectors. Sitharaman underlined that within 36 hours of the lockdown — Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed a national lockdown for three weeks on Tuesday night — the government had come up with measures to immediately take care of welfare concerns of the poor. She, however, did not address questions about the fiscal implications of the scheme, or announce measures for other economic sectors which have also got severely affected in the wake of the restrictions and the lockdown.Sitharaman announced a medial insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh per person for doctors, health care personnel and sanitation staff, acknowledging their contribution at this crisis hour. The PMGKY had two broad components — the first was centred on ensuring food availability and support, and the second was centred on income support.
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