Govt Announces Covid Relief Measures, Health & Tourism in Focus
As part of the Rs 1.1 lakh crore credit guarantee scheme, Rs 50,000 crore is allocated for the health sector
To overcome the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the government on Monday announced a series of economic relief measures including a Rs 1.1 lakh crore loan guarantee scheme for Covid affected sectors and an additional Rs 1.5 lakh crore for the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee scheme. It also announced measures to revive the tourism sector which has been especially hit by the Covid pandemic, offering a new loan guarantee scheme for tourist goofs and tourism agencies, and a free tourist visa for five lakh tourists.
“Once international travel resumes, the first five lakh tourists who come to India will not have to pay visa fees. The scheme would be applicable till March 31, 2022, or will be closed after the distribution of the first five lakh visas. One tourist can avail of this benefit only once,” Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a press conference.
Minister of State for Finance, Anurag Thakur, added that 10.93 million foreign tourists visited India in 2019, and spent $30 billion on leisure and business. The average daily stay for a foreign tourist in India is 21 days and the average daily spending is around $34. He said the total financial implication of the free visa scheme would be Rs 100 crore.
As part of the Rs 1.1 lakh crore credit guarantee scheme, Rs 50,000 crore is allocated for the health sector for the expansion of medical infrastructure in cities other than the eight metropolitan cities. The rest Rs 60,000 crore is allotted for “other sectors” for which “decisions would be made at a later stage based on evolving needs”.
“The new Credit Guarantee Scheme will also reach out to small borrowers in the hinterland, including in small towns. Moreover, the interest rate under the scheme is set 2 per cent below the RBI prescribed rate,” she added.
The maximum loan under the scheme would be Rs 100 crore and the duration of the guarantee would be up to three years. The interest rate for all such loans would be capped at 7.95 per cent in the case of the health sector. For “other sectors”, the interest rate would be capped at 8.25 per cent per annum. Normal interest rate without the guarantee cover is between 10 and 11 per cent.
Sitharaman said Rs 23,220 crore will be provided for paediatric care or paediatric beds at hospitals.
In order to revive tourism, the new loan guarantee scheme will support 10,700 regional level tourist guides and Travel and Tourism stakeholders (TTS) recognised by the Ministry of Tourism and the state governments.
Among other measures, the Atmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana has also been extended from June 30, 2021, to March 31, 2022. “Over 21.4 lakh people of nearly 80,000 establishments have already benefited from the scheme,” the Finance Minister said.
Among other measures, the government also announced credit guarantee scheme for 25 lakh persons through micro finance institutions under which guarantee will be provided to scheduled commercial banks for loans to new and existing NBFC-MFIs or MFIs for loans upto Rs 1.25 lakh. Under this scheme, focus would be on new loans, not old loan repayments.
Additional support of Rs 19,041 crore will be provided for broadband connectivity to all village panchayats.
Fertiliser subsidy of Rs 14,775 crore will be provided over and above Rs 85,413 crore budgeted.