As the 2nd wave of COVID 19 adversely affected the economy of the country, the Union Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister announced 8 schemes out of 17 in various fields providing economic relief. The special focus is on health and reviving travel, tourism sectors.
1.10 lakh crore Loan Guarantee Scheme for COVID Affected sectors Under this new scheme, additional credit of Rs 1.1 lakh crore will flow to the businesses. This includes Rs 50,000 crore for the health sector and Rs 60,000 crore for other sectors, including tourism. The health sector component is aimed at upscaling medical infrastructure targeting underserved areas. Guarantee cover will be available both for expansion and new projects related to health/medical infrastructure in cities other than 8 metropolitan cities. While the guarantee cover will be 50% for expansion & 75% for new projects, in the case of aspirational districts, the guarantee cover of 75% will be available for both new projects and expansion. The maximum loan admissible under the scheme is Rs. 100 crore and guarantee duration are up to 3 years. Banks can charge a maximum interest of 7.95% on these loans. Loans for other sectors will be available with an interest cap of 8.25% p.a. Thus the loans available under the scheme will be much cheaper compared to the normal interest rates without a guarantee of 10-11%.
Scheme for Tourists guides/ stakeholders
Another new scheme announced today aims at providing relief to people working in the tourism sector. Under the new Loan Guarantee Scheme for COVID-affected sectors, working capital/personal loans will be provided to people in the tourism sector to discharge liabilities and restart businesses impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The scheme will cover 10,700 Regional Level Tourist Guides recognized by the Ministry of Tourism and Tourist Guides recognized by the State Governments, and about 1,000 Travel and Tourism Stakeholders (TTS) recognized by the Ministry of Tourism. TTS’s will be eligible to get a loan up to Rs. 10 lakh each while tourist guides can avail of loans up to Rs 1 lakh each. There will be no processing charges, waiver of foreclosure/prepayment charges, and no requirement of additional collateral. Scheme to be administered by the Ministry of Tourism through NCGTC, free one-month tourist visa to 5 lakh tourists.
This is another scheme aimed at boosting the tourism sector. It envisages that once Visa issuance is restarted, the first 5 lakh Tourists Visas will be issued visa-free of charge to visit India. However, the benefit will be available only once per tourist. The facility will be applicable till 31st March 2022 or till 5 lakh visas are issued, whichever is earlier. Total financial implications of the scheme to the government will be Rs. 100 crore.
Strengthening Public Health Rs. 23,220 crore more for public health with emphasis on children and paediatric care/paediatric beds .
Besides supporting the health sector through a credit guarantee scheme, a new scheme for strengthening public health infrastructure and human resources with an outlay of Rs. 23,220 crore was also announced. The new scheme will focus on short-term emergency preparedness with special emphasis on children and pediatric care/paediatric beds. An outlay of Rs. 23,220 crore is earmarked for the scheme to be spent in the current financial year itself. Under the scheme funds will be available for short-term HR augmentation through medical students (interns, residents, final year) and nursing students; increasing availability of ICU beds, oxygen supply at central, district and sub-district level; availability of equipment, medicines; access to teleconsultation; strengthening ambulance services; and enhancing testing capacity and supportive diagnostics, strengthen capacity for surveillance and genome sequencing.