Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday announced a slew of measures and schemes to boost the economy with a focus on healthcare and tourism sectors. Sitharaman announced eight economic relief measures, including four new ones.

The finance minister announced a Rs 1.1 lakh crore loan guarantee scheme for sectors affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Out of this, Rs 50,000 crore has been allotted to the healthcare sector and the remaining to others.

The guarantee scheme will cover the expansion of and new projects related to developing healthcare infrastructure in cities other than the eight metropolitans, Sitharaman said at a press briefing. Residents can take a loan of up to Rs 100 crore for a guaranteed duration of a maximum of three years under the scheme. The interest rate has been capped at 7.95%.

The finance minister said that the interest rate for the guarantee scheme for other sectors was limited at 8.25%, pointing out that the normal interest without guarantee cover is 10-11%.

In a bid to boost tourism, Sitharaman announced that the first 5 lakh tourist visas will be issued free of charge, once the government resumes issuing them. The scheme will be applicable till March 22 next year or till 5 lakh visas are issued.


Other announcements

  • Credit line scheme to provide loans to small borrowers through microfinance institutions. The loan duration is for three years and individuals can borrow loans of up to Rs 1.25 lakh at 2% interest rate.
  • An additional Rs 1.5 lakh crore credit in the existing emergency credit line guarantee scheme, which was announced earlier as part of the financial package announced in May last year. With this, the overall cap has increased to Rs 4.5 lakh crore.
  • The government also extended the financial assistance given to more than 11,000 registered tourist guides and travel and tourism stakeholders. Licensed tourist guides can get up to Rs 1 lakh loan. The travel and tourism stakeholders can borrow up to Rs 10 lakh loan.
  • Atmanirbhar Bharta Rozgar Yojana scheme extended from June 30 till March 31, 2022. 
  • Free food grains will be provided to the residents in the weaker sections of society till November under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana. Sitharaman said that the financial implications of this will be nearly Rs 94,000 crore.
  • The government has also allotted Rs 23,220 crore on public healthcare with a focus on child care. This will be used to strengthen healthcare infrastructure such as intensive care unit beds, ambulances, oxygen supply, equipment and medicines.
  • More than Rs 19,000 crore allotted to the BharatNet project to provide broadband connectivity to villages. The government said that 1.56 lakh out of 2.5 lakh gram panchayats already covered under the project.
  • Farmers to get additional protein-based fertiliser subsidy of nearly Rs 15,000 crore. 
  • Rs 33,000 crore boost announced for project exports through National Exports Insurance Account.
  • North Eastern Agricultural Marketing Corporation to get Rs 77.45 crore revival package. The government said that it will help in financial restructuring and farmers getting higher prices for their crops.