26 key highlights of Nirmala Sitharaman Press Conference held on 17 May 2020- Atmanirbhar Bharat

As a nation, we stand at a very crucial juncture. Such a big disaster is a signal for India, it has brought a message and opportunity

  1. Debt due to COVID excluded from default

On matters concerning the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), Sitharaman said, ‘Debts related to COVID shall be excluded from default under the IBC. No fresh insolvency proceedings will be made for a year. For MSMEs, a special insolvency framework will be notified under Section 42A of IBC, the minimum threshold has increased from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1 crore.’ In relation to IBC related matters, Nirmala Sitharaman said that debts related to COVID-19 shall be excluded from defaults under IBC. “No fresh insolvency proceeding will be initiated up to 1 year. At the moment MCA has extended this by 6 months, we intend to extend this by another 6 months. For MSMEs a special insolvency framework will be notified under section 240-A of IBC. The minimum threshold to initiate insolvency proceedings raised to Rs 1 crore from the earlier Rs 1 lakh, which largely insulates MSMEs.”

2. No fresh insolvency to be initiated for 1 year;

COVID-19 related debt to be excluded from definition of default: Sitharaman

3. Centre to decriminalise sections of Companies Act

Under the Companies Act, Sitharaman said the government is trying to decriminalise most of the sections. Compoundable offences can now be tried under internal adjudicating mechanisms, she said.

4. Timely action was taken during Covid-19 to reduce compliance burden under various provisions of Companies Act.

Board meetings were allowed to be online, rights issues can be done digitally, major reform in corporate governance: FM

5. One Nation One Digital Education’ & ‘One Class One Channel’ programmes will be launched 

PM e-vidya programme, for multi-mode access to digital/online education to be launched immediately

  • E-content for visually and hearing impaired children
  • exclusive use of radio, community radio and podcasts
  • DIKSHA for school education in states/UTs; e-content and QR coded energized text books for all grades

6. Centre increases expenditure for public health care

The government also increased its expenditure for public healthcare. Sitharaman said: “All districts will have an infectious diseases’ block. Public health labs will be set up at all block levels.”

While the first step of the final tranche of the stimulus package, Nirmala Sitharaman said, “Health reforms and initiatives put in place. Public expenditure on health will be increased. Investments at grassroots for health and wellness centers both at rural and urban levels will be ramped up. All districts will have infectious disease hospital blocks. Public health labs to be set up at block levels.”

7. 200 new textbooks have been added to e-Pathshala,

states, provision has been made for telecast of live interactive sessions for teachers and students, states are coordinating to share educational air-time: FM

8. 44% recovery has been achieved since inception of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.

During Covid-19, we made sure that industries do not suffer: FM

9. Govt will allocates additional Rs 40,000 crore for MGNREGA scheme, says FM

In first of the seven steps to be announced by the finance minister, Nirmala Sitharam said that a budget estimate for MNREGS is now at Rs 61,000 crore. “Government will now allocate an additional Rs 40,000 crore under the scheme. This will generate Rs 300 crore more person-days of work and will address the need for work for returning migrants.” she said

10. Covid-19 crisis enabled India to prove to the world that we can ramp up our production of protective equipment.

From 0 producers, we today have more than 300 domestic PPE manufacturers; we have given more than 11 crore HCQ tablets: FM

11. Rs 15,000 crore released by PM,

health insurance of Rs 50 lakh per person to healthcare workers, says FM

Nirmala Sitharam while announcing the final tranche of the economic stimulus package said, “Health-related steps that have been taken: Rs 15,000 crore was released by the prime minister, insurance cover of Rs 50 lakhs per person for health professionals was announced, made sure telemedicine comes into play, capacity building exercises have been taken up, for protection of health care workers, amendment of Epidemic Diseases Act was required which was undertaken.”Various sections of people were given assistance despite the lockdown, because of the reform initiatives which were undertaken by the government during the last few years: FM

12. This was done because, Jaan Hai To Jahaan Hai.

Lives were given priority. In a post-Covid era, livelihoods too have to come into full play. To take care of new considerations, our attempt is to ensure both lives and livelihoods: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

13. 85% cost of tickets for shramik special trains borne by Centre, says FM

Shramik special trains were started when it was possible for workers to move said the finance minister. Nirmala Sithraman also said that states were requested to bring workers to stations, 85 percent cost was borne by the Central government

14. 20 crore Jan Dhan account holding women got Rs 10, 025 crore.

2.2 crore building and construction workers got Rs 3,950 crore. 6.81 crore people got free LPG cylinders. 12 lakh EPFO holders got online withdrawal of advance: FM

15. NSAP beneficiaries got Rs 1,405 crore in first installment and

 1,402 crore in 2nd instalment, target of Rs 3,000 crore nearly achieved: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

16. Several benefited through Direct Benefit Transfer: Nirmala Sitharaman

“Rs 16,394 crorehas reached 8.19 crore farmers. Twenty crore women were benefited after Rs 10,025 crore were deposited in their accounts.

17. Direct Benefit Transfers played an important role

FM Sitharaman appreciates the role of Direct Benefit Transfers in providing following relief

  • 20 cr women Jan Dhan accounts credited
  • 2 cr building workers given money because of DBT
  • 81 Ujjwala cylinders reached beneficiaries
  • 12 lakh EPFO members benefited from non-refundable advance

18. PM Garib Kalyan Yojana used the technology available

and was able to make direct transfer of cash for various categories: FM

19. FM Sitharaman hails FCI, NAFED, state governments

FM Sitharaman appreciates FCI, NAFED, state governments for delivering their duties in providing food grains, notwithstanding the lockdown, despite facing logistics challenges.

20. We will today be continuing in the series of reforms announced.

Soon after lockdown, we came with PM Garib Kalyan package, we provided food grains to those who needed it, we did not want to scout for money to search for grains: FM

21. Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman to announce the last tranche of government’s Rs 20 lakh crore economic package

FM says provisions made for telecast of live interactive sessions for online education

The finance minister noted that online education has been taken up in a big way in India. She said,  “SWAYAM PRABHA DTH channels to support and reach those who do not have access to the internet. Provision made for the telecast of live interactive sessions.”

22. All sectors to be opened to private players: Nirmala Sitharaman

Speaking of a public enterprise policy, she said, “All sectors will be opened to private sectors also. Public sectors will continue to play an important role in defined areas. We shall defined the areas or categories. The strategic sectors in which public private sector enterprises will be present will be notified. Not more than four enterprises will be present in each sector.”

23. Additional resources to States:

Centre has decided to increase borrowing limit of states from 3% to 5% for FY21. This will give extra resources of Rs 4.28 lakh crore to states. This despite, states having borrowed only 14% of the limit authorised to them. 86% remains unutilised.

24. RBI increases WMA limits for states

RBI has increased Ways and Means Advances by 60%, also states can remain in continuous overdraft position for 21 days, instead of 14 days.

25. Ease of Doing Business for Corporates

Listing of non-convertible debentures on stock exchanges will not be regarded as those companies as listed companies – so if companies were to list their NCDs on stock exchanges, it doesn’t mean that they would become listed companies.

26. Companies can now directly list securities in foreign jurisdictions

Government allows companies to directly list their securities in foreign jurisdictions. Listing on non-convertible debentures will mean that the company is listed – FM Sitharaman

SOURCE: Economic Times/ Times of India/Indian Express/Press release/Other Newspaper

Disclaimer: The Article is based on the Relevant Provisions and as per the information existing at the time of the preparation. In no event I shall be liable for any direct and indirect result from this Article. This is only a knowledge sharing initiative.

The Author CS Deepak Seth (Associate Partner at Helpinghands Professionals LLP) and can be reached at contacthhpro@gmail.com or 9910248911.

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