PM Modi's first cabinet meeting rolls out funds for farmers, traders

PM Narendra Modi with Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah and others during the first cabinet meeting, at the Prime Minister’s Office, in South Block, New Delhi | PTI
The new Union Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in its first meeting approved a number of schemes aimed at the rural sector and traders.

It cleared the extension of benefits of the PM Kisan scheme to all landholding farmers, providing them Rs 6,000 per year.

The additional outlay of this scheme will be around Rs 13,000 crore per annum. This means the outlay for PM Kisan, going by the numbers for 2019-20, given in the Interim Budget, will be Rs 88,000 crore, including the Rs 75,000 crore allocated for small and marginal landed farmers.

 
The Cabinet also approved a pension scheme for farmers and a similar scheme for traders. No outlay for traders was provided while for farmers, the Centre will spend Rs 10,774.5 crore for three years.

“In the Kisan Samman Yojana, Rs 6,000 would be disbursed, in three equal instalments of Rs 2,000 to all farmers. In its earlier avatar, the scheme was restricted to only small and marginal farmers. More than 145 million farmers are expected to be covered under the scheme. This is expected to cost the exchequer Rs 88,000 crore every year,” said Prakash Javadekar, minister of environment and information and broadcasting.

An official statement said certain operational issues related to PM Kisan, like lack of updated land records in Jharkhand and the lack of Aadhaar penetration in Assam, Meghalaya, and Jammu and Kashmir, had been resolved.

On Friday, the government announced the Kisan Pension Yojana, under which any farmer in the age group 18-40 can join by paying a premium of Rs 2-7 a day. This will give farmers a minimum fixed pension of Rs 3,000 when they turn 60, with the Centre matching the amount paid by each farmer.

Javadekar announced the Cabinet cleared a similar scheme for small traders whose annual income is less than Rs 1.5 crore. This was a key demand of the Confederation of All India Traders, which had decided to support Modi after the BJP's assurance that trader welfare would be priority for the new government. Small traders do not come within the ambit of the goods and services tax and nearly 50 million traders are expected to join the scheme over the next three years.

Traders can enrol themselves through common service centres. The scheme proposes a Rs 2 per day premium for those entering at the age of 18, Rs 100 per month premium for those of 29, and Rs 200 per month for those who are 40 and above. Again, the Centre will make matching contributions to the subscribers’ accounts.

With an eye on eradicating the highly contagious foot and mouth disease, which afflicts thousands of bovine animals every year, the government has decided to expand vaccination efforts for all cattle, Javadekar said. 

“This includes buffaloes, cows, sheep, goats and pigs, crores of which fall prey to this and other diseases every year,” he said.

“The government has now decided to provide universal vaccination for such animals. Sixty per cent of the cost of existing schemes in the domain is borne by the government with the rest provided by states,” he said.

Animal husbandry has been a strong focus of the Modi government and in keeping with the election promises, Rs 13,000 crore will be disbursed for the new scheme, with the Centre picking up the entire bill. The government targets the reduction of milk loss and infertility among cattle.

India has been keen on getting access to the massive Chinese dairy and meat market but successively talks have faltered due to Beijing's reservations about the health of Indian cattle.

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