In a major move to bring relief to Kerala’s economy that has taken a huge hit due to the coronavirus pandemic, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced a financial package worth Rs 20,000 crore. He said this money would be used to cover health packages, loan assistance, welfare pensions, MGNREGS, free food grains, subsidized meals, tax relief and arrear clearance.
“Our state is facing a big crisis, normal life has been hit by this pandemic. It has wreaked havoc on our economy and to revive the economy, we are announcing a Rs 20,000 crore package,” he said.
In another major announcement, Pinarayi Vijayan announced that free rice will be given to everyone, regardless of their economic status, for one month.
“Without differentiating families based on Below Poverty Line (BPL) and Above Poverty Line (APL) cards, everyone will be given free rice. APL families will be given a total of 10 Kg cereals. For this Rs 100 crore has been allotted,” said the Chief Minister.
The CM also said that through Kudumbashree, loans worth Rs 2000 crore will be disbursed to families in need.
About 50 lakh people in the state presently receive various social security pensions. “This pension is supposed to be given in April. But we have decided to disburse the pension amount for two months, this month itself,” he said.
He also said that there are families in Kerala which do not receive any social security pension, those families will be given Rs 1,000 each and Rs 100 crore has been set aside for this.
In another important concession, the state government announced that payment period for electricity and water bills will be extended. “People can pay the bills without paying fines for one more month,” said CM.
Kerala government had in the last state budget announced that 1,000 subsidised food stalls will be opened in the state. In the announcement made on Thursday, the Chief Minister said that the Rs 25 meals would be distributed for Rs 20. “We had to start these food outlets by September, but under the new circumstances, 1,000 food outlets will be started by April itself,” said Pinarayi Vijayan.
Concessions have also been announced for auto rickshaw and bus operators in the state. "Fitness fee for autorickshaw will be relaxed. Stage carriage and contract carriage in buses will be tax-deductible. Stage carriers will be given a one-month exemption for three months tax," the CM said.
A health package of Rs 500 crores was also announced on Thursday to meet the health care issues of people in the wake of COVID-19.
Entertainment tax reduction will be given to cinema theaters.