New Delhi: A day after taking oath, the new cabinet met on Friday and approved the extension of the PM-KISAN scheme to all 14.5 crore farmers across the country. The first meeting was held at the Prime Minister's Office in South Block.
The extension will cost Rs 87,000 crore a year. A pension scheme worth Rs 10,000 crore, which will benefit five crore farmers, was also announced.
Announcing the two key decisions, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the Modi 2.0 government has announced the landmark decisions for the farming community in its very first Cabinet meeting.
"The Union Cabinet has approved to extend the ambit of the scheme by including all land holding eligible farmer families under the scheme, subject to the prevalent exclusion criteria," he said after the meeting.
The Rs 75,000-crore Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Siddhi (PMKSS) was announced in the interim Budget under which the government decided to provide Rs 6,000 per year (in three equal installments) to an estimated 12.5 crore small and marginal farmers holding land up to two hectares.
"Now, the revised scheme envisages covering around two crore more farmers, increasing the coverage of the PM-KISAN to around 14.5 crore beneficiaries," Tomar said.
The minister said the total burden on the exchequer will increase by Rs 12,000 crore to Rs 87,217.50 crore for the year 2019-20.
Terming the decisions taken by the Cabinet as path-breaking, PM Modi said farmers and traders would benefit greatly from them. "The decisions will enhance dignity and empowerment of several Indians.PM Modi People first, people always," Modi said in a tweet.
People first, people always. Glad that path-breaking decisions were taken in the Cabinet, the first in this tenure. Hardworking farmers and industrious traders will benefit greatly due to these decisions. The decisions will enhance dignity and empowerment of several Indians. pic.twitter.com/U9JTXeyoVm— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 31, 2019
"So far, the first installment has been given to only 3.11 crore beneficiaries and the second to 2.66 crore beneficiaries as many states did not provide the data of eligible farmers," Tomar said. "Such decisions are taken during elections, but this shows the Modi government's commitment towards farmers. It also shows that the government is not just bothered about votes but really wants to improve the farmers' plight."
In another major decision, Tomar said the Cabinet also approved the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Pension Yojana under which small and marginal farmers will get a minimum fixed pension of Rs 3,000 per month on attaining the age of 60.
"In the initial phase, the government will cover a minimum of five crore small and marginal farmers in the first three years," he said, adding this would cost the exchequer Rs 10,774.5 crore per annum.
"This scheme is a voluntary and contributory pension scheme for small and marginal farmers across the country, with the entry age of 18-40 years," he said.
The Centre said it will match the contribution made by the eligible farmer in the pension fund. After the subscriber's death, while receiving pension, the spouse of the beneficiary will be entitled to receive 50% of the pension amount provided he/she is not already a beneficiary of the scheme.
Farmers can use benefits under the PM-KISAN scheme to make contributions to the pension scheme.
"The pension scheme will ensure social security to poor and small farmers," Tomar said.
Pension scheme for traders
The government also approved a new scheme, which assures a minimum monthly pension of Rs 3,000 to all shopkeepers, retail traders and self-employed persons after attaining the age of 60. The decision is expected to benefit more than three crore retail traders and shopkeepers.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that five crore traders are expected to join the scheme in the next three years.
"All shopkeepers and self employed persons as well as retail traders with GST turnover below Rs 1.5 crore and aged between 18-40 years can enrol for the scheme," an official statement said.
Interested persons can enrol themselves through 3.25 lakh common service centres spread across the country. The government will make matching contribution in the subscribers' account, the statement added.
(With inputs from agencies)