Govt could consider suggestions for cash transfer to unemployed workers: Niti Aayog VC

New Delhi: The government could consider suggestions for direct transfer of cash to unemployed workers, including migrant workers, to compensate them for loss of livelihood in the wake of the 21-day lockdown to curb spreading of coronavirus infections, Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar said on Monday.

Following the nationwide lockdown, which will be in place till April 14, thousands of migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other states have started returning back to their home states from various cities, including Delhi and Mumbai.

Kumar said the Centre and state governments have made big arrangements for migrant workers in different parts of the country where their sustenance is taken care of.

The central government has also received suggestions for direct cash transfer to unemployed workers, he said.

“As far as the loss of cash income (of migrant workers due to the countrywide lockdown) is concerned, I think the government may consider at some stage giving them cash through the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme to compensate them for loss of employment on account of the 21-day lockdown,” Kumar told in an interview.

The option of direct cash transfer might be considered for unemployed workers, including migrant workers, he noted.

Even though most migrant workers have mobile phones and bank accounts, Kumar said it would still be difficult to transfer cash to them because they are in an unorganised segment.

“Nonetheless, some ways can be found through industry organisations, through employer organisations to identify them and compensate them to some extent for loss of their cash incomes,” Kumar said.

According to him, there are two negative impacts due to the lockdown on migrant workers.

“One is sustenance, which means food and shelter, and second is the loss of cash income. The first is already being taken care of and the second, I think, as and when need arises will be taken care of by the Centre and state governments working together,” he said.

Last week, the government announced a Rs 1.7 lakh crore stimulus package that includes free foodgrains and cooking gas to poor people for three months as well as cash doles to women and poor senior citizens to alleviate the financial impact due to the lockdown.

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