Governance

Kerala's Rs 20,000 crore package for COVID-19 outbreak: How far will it go?

Kerala had 60 cases of those infected by the novel coronavirus as of March 23, 2020

 
Last Updated: Monday 23 March 2020

Kerala — the state with the second-most number of novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) cases — announced a Rs 20,000 crore relief package on March 20, 2020 to protect its economy from the nation-wide slowdown brought on by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

There were 60 infected by the virus in Kerala as of March 23, according to the Union health ministry. Over 31,000 people in the state were kept under surveillance, as of March 20.

The Kerala government on March 23 said a partial lockdown would be in place in the districts where the disease was found, a measure that would have an impact on economic activities. 

Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced a host of measures, including free food grains and easy loans to tide over financial hardships caused by the disease.

Vijayan said Kerala would spend Rs 100 crore from the relief package to provide 10 kg cereals to everybody in the state — including those below and above the poverty line – through ration shops.

Pensions in April and May would be released in March itself, according to the state government.

Kerala  with one of the best social security pension schemes in the country — covers around five million beneficiaries.

The government also announced monetary aid for those who were not part of the pension scheme. Such people would be paid Rs 1,000, for which the state would disburse Rs 100 crore.

Kerala also earmarked Rs 2,000 crore for those seeking loans. These loans would be disbursed through Kudumbashree — an all-woman network.

The Kerala government also allowed people to defer payment of their water and electricity bills by a month.

Cinema halls were exempt from entertainment tax, while other industrial sectors were also given a slew of tax breaks.

Kerala had — earlier in its 2020 state budget — announced the creation of 1,000 low-cost eateries that would serve a meal for Rs 25. The government subsequently reduced the cost of the meals to Rs 20.

Other states took precautionary measures to curb the economic fallout resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Kerala, however, was the first state to come out with full-fledged measures to deal with the economic fallout.

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