The State government seems to have charted out a course of action for executing without any hitches the ₹20,000-crore stimulus package drawn up for cushioning the impact of COVID-19 outbreak.
Since the government is battling a grave resource crunch, doubts have been raised about the options before the Finance Department to mobilise resources for the package. It is understood that the government would avail itself of at least 50% of the annual borrowing limits set for next financial year by April itself to source funds for the package. In a tweet on Friday, Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac said, “We are front-loading borrowing and spending to the beginning of the new fiscal and redesigning some of the schemes. With a track record of 99% repayment, it should not be difficult to widen the credit window to Kudumbashree.” Earlier, he had urged Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman to give the go ahead for front-loading market borrowing for 2020-21 for wiping out the arrears and disbursing pensions to 55 lakh elderly beneficiaries. But the Centre has not heeded the request, sources said.
The accent of the plan is on providing basic amenities to the legions who are facing the threat of being expropriated of their spending capacity on becoming unemployed. The target group is mainly daily-wage earners and those who eke out a living doing odd jobs.
The first step would be advancing the Budget proposal to open food courts for distributing meals at ₹25 to April from September so that it would be a great relief to the unemployed and marginalised sections. It has been proposed to give free rations to the indigent and affected families.
Welfare pensions would either be given in full or at least a tranche would be disbursed in advance. A sum of ₹1,000 each would be given to those who are not drawing any pension or other benefits from the government.
The maximum number of mandays under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, charted for the entire year, would be created in April and May. Such proposals are expected to enhance people’s spending capacity and churn the economy that remains stagnant, the sources said.