These are the top takeaways from Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's third installment from Modi's ₹20 lakh crore stimulus

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses a press conference on the Rs 20 lakh crore economic package.IANS
  • Out of the 11 measures announced on May 15, 8 related to strengthening infrastructure, logistics, storage capacity.
  • Three of them were related to governance and administrative reforms, the Minister said speaking in New Delhi.
  • Sitharaman promised that government will allocate money and to quickly ramp up existing policies in these spaces.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's third tranche of the ₹20 lakh crore ($270 billion) economic stimulus promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the government in New Delhi was dedicated to farming and allied activities including fisheries and animal husbandry etc.

The first tranche was a clearly quantifiable ₹5.9 lakh crore ($78 billion) push for micro, small and medium (MSME) businesses, non-banking financial companies, among others. The second one was dedicated largely to providing relief to migrant workers and small farmers. One nation, one ration card was one of the highlights of the announcement.

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Out of the 11 measures announced on May 15, 8 related to strengthening infrastructure, logistics, storage capacity and 3 were related to governance and administrative reforms. Sitharaman promised that government will allocate money and to quickly ramp up existing policies in these spaces.

These are the top highlights of the Finance Minister's speech on May 15:

1. ₹1 lakh crore ($13 billion) allocated to strengthen farm-gate infrastructure like cold chains, storage centresetc. The fund created for cooperatives,farmers producer organisations, private entrepreneurs, startups etc. looking to enter this space.

2. For micro food enterprises, the government will provide a fund of ₹10,000 crore. The intention is to help local manufacturers and brands, in the health and wellness space, organic products, nutrition products etc. to go global. The fun will go into modernising, formalising, and bringing these firms up to global standards.

This will be cluster-based approach. For instance, makhana makers in Bihar, saffron products makers in Kashmir, tapioca makers in Tamil Nadu, ragi makers in Karnataka etc. can benefit from this.

3. Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (a scheme dedicated to marine fisheries and aquaculture):₹20,000 crore to boost fish production by 7 million tonnes in the next five years.

4. [An existing programme] ₹13,343 crore had been allocated for National Animal Disease Control Programme in January 2020 to ensure 100% vaccination of cattle, buffalo, sheep, goat and pig population (over 53 crore animals). 1.5 crore cows and buffaloes tagged and vaccinated till date. This will continue in green zones.

5. A new fund of ₹15,000 crore is being established to boost animal husbandry infrastructure development. Dairy producers and processors will be eligible for incentives being provided from this fund. Those who want to set up plants for export of niche dairy products will also be supported.

6. ₹4,000 crore for promotion of cultivation of medicinal plants. 1 million hectares to be covered under herbal cultivation in the next two years. This will lead to income generation of ₹5,000 crore for farmers. Development of a corridor of 800 hectare area along the banks of river Ganga. A network of regional markets (mandis) will be created for medicinal plants.

7. ₹500 crore for beekeeping initiatives. Government will implement a scheme for infrastructure development related to Integrated Beekeeping Development Centres, Collection, Marketing and Storage Centres. This will lead to an increase in yield and crop quality, resulting in increase in income for 2 lakh beekeepers.

8. ₹500 crore for subsidy to farmers of green produce (fruits and vegetables). 50% subsidy for transportation of green produce from surplus to deficient markets. 50% subsidy for storage of green produce. This pilot project will initially be for a period of 6 months - the government says it will be expanded and extended in the future.

9. Essential Commodities Actwill be amended to deregulate prices of cereals, edible oils, oilseeds, pulses, onions and potato etc. Stock limits to be imposed only under exceptional circumstances like national calamities, famine with a surge in prices. No such stock limit shall apply to processors or value chain participants, or to any exporter subject to export demand.

10. Farmers will be given the choice to sell their produce at attractive prices, instead of selling it to just APMCs (Agricultural Produce Market Committee). Framework for e-trading of agricultural produce to be included in the central law proposed to be formulated.

11. Agricultural Produce Price and Quality Assurance. Facilitative legal framework to be created to enable farmers for engaging with food processors, aggregators, large retailers, exporters etc. Risk mitigation for farmers, assured returns and quality standardisation shall form an integral part of the framework

Taking stock of the measures taken during the lockdown.

₹74,300 crore worth agricultural produce was purchased at minimum support prices since the lockdown began on March 25. ₹18,700 crore cash has transferred from the Prime Minister's Kisan (farmer) Fund. ₹6,400 crore worth claims under PM Fasal Bimal Yojana (crop protection scheme).

Milk cooperatives bought 560 litres of every day against the daily demand of 360 litres. Additional 111 crore litres of milk was purchased and dairy farmers were paid ₹4,100 crore. The excess milk will be converted to milk powder, a Finance Ministry official said.

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