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PM Narendra Modi unveiled a relief package for farmers, senior citizens, small enterprises, women and the rural poor as a return gift of sorts for enduring the pain caused by the Centre’s decision to scrap the legal tender nature of old 500 and 1,000 notes.
Linking the surge of black money to the unavailability of affordable housing for the poor and the middle class, Mr. Modi announced a special scheme under Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana to provide an interest subvention of 4 % on loans up to 9 lakh and 3 per cent on loans up to 12 lakh for urban housing.
A similar scheme would be rolled out for the rural poor to get a house-building loan of up to 2 lakh at a 3 per cent lower interest rate.
Promising to convert three crore Kisan credit cards to Rupay cards in the next three months, the Prime Minister flagged the inconvenience posed by Kisan credit cards which require farmers to go to the bank to withdraw cash against their credit limit. With a Rupay card, they will be able to make transactions for farm inputs without visiting the bank.
Mr. Modi announced a guaranteed 8 per cent return on bank deposits up to 7.5 lakh made by senior citizens for a period of 10 years.
He also announced a virtual doubling in the credit flow to the farm sector via district central co-operative banks and primary societies, with the Centre bearing the interest cost for 60 days on existing loans availed by farmers.
This interest subvention will be credited to farmers’ accounts and an additional 30,000 crore is being provided by the Centre to the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) to lend to co-operative banks and societies at a lower interest rate.
Mr Modi also raised the credit guarantee for small businesses from Rs 1 crore to Rs 2 crore and said this will help boost job creation.
The PM also enhanced the maternity benefits given to pregnant women for pre-natal care to Rs 6,000 from the existing level of Rs 4,000 and declared that this benefit will now be available for women in all 650 districts of the country. Currently, the scheme is only working as a pilot project in 53 districts.