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Kerala announces Rs 20000 cr revival package for COVID-19 relief efforts

“Our state is facing a big crisis, normal life has been hit by this pandemic"

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Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has announced a financial package worth Rs 20,000 crore to provide relief to those affected by the COVID-19. The money would be used to cover health packages, loan assistance, welfare pensions, MGNREGS, free food grains, subsidized meals, tax relief and arrear clearance.

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“Our state is facing a big crisis, normal life has been hit by this pandemic. It has wreaked havoc on our economy and to revive the economy, we are announcing a Rs 20,000 crore package,” he said.

In addition, the Kerala CM also announced that free rice will be given to everyone for a month regardless of their economic status.

“Without differentiating families based on Below Poverty Line (BPL) and Above Poverty Line (APL) cards, everyone will be given free rice. APL families will be given a total of 10 Kg cereals. For this Rs 100 crore has been allotted,” said the Chief Minister.

Kerala currently has about 50 lakh people that receive social security pensions.

“This pension is supposed to be given in April. But we have decided to disburse the pension amount for two months, this month itself,” he said.

CM Pinarayi Vijayan also said that families in Kerala which do not receive any social security pension will be given Rs 1,000 each. The government has set aside Rs 100 crore for this.

In another concession, payment period for electricity and water bills will be extended. “People can pay the bills without paying fines for one more month,” said CM. In the last state budget Kerala government had announced that it would open 1,000 subsidised food stalls. The CM stated that in light of the COVID-19 devastation, the food outlets planned for September will open in Kerala by April.

“We had to start these food outlets by September, but under the new circumstances, 1,000 food outlets will be started by April itself.”

In addition, concessions will also be made for auto rickshaw and bus operators in the state. “Fitness fee for autorickshaw will be relaxed. Stage carriage and contract carriage in buses will be tax-deductible. Stage carriers will be given a one-month exemption for three months tax.”

A health package of Rs 500 crores was also announced on Thursday to meet the health care issues of people in Kerala in the wake of COVID-19. Theaters will also get an Entertainment tax reduction.

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