The year 2020 will go down in history as the year of unprecedented economic crisis in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown. The economy, for the first time in four decades, slipped into a recession, migrant workers left cities, manufacturing came to a near halt, the services sector faced its worst downturn, and MSMEs begged for government support to survive.
However, nearly a year after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted lives and the economy, things are slowly limping back to normalcy. The government on its part announced several measures under Atmanirbhar Bharat to steer the economy through the pandemic. The Rs 20 lakh crore package announced in tranches was doled out to provide relief to those most affected by the coronavirus crisis and spur economic growth.
Announced in three phases, the measures under Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan comprised Kisan Credit Cards (KCC), government-guaranteed loans to MSMEs, Atmanirbhar Bharat Rozgar Yojana for job creation, emergency working capital for farmers via NABARD, extension of production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme to stimulate domestic production of goods, and Rs 1.18 lakh crore worth of loans for power discoms.
Talking about the KCC drive, the Finance Ministry recently said in a tweet that banks had issued 1.8 crore Kisan Credit Cards with a credit limit of Rs 1.68 lakh crore as of January 8, 2021.
"Special KCC Drive: Ensuring #AatmaNirbharKrishi by providing convenient & cost-effective credit delivery to farmers. Playing a critical role in fulfilling the objective of food security for our country by driving rural economy & accelerating agriculture & allied activities," the ministry tweeted.
"Re-strengthening economy through reforms: Providing concessional credit through Kisan Credit Cards to farmers including PM-KISAN beneficiaries, Fishermen and Animal Husbandry farmers," it said in another tweet.
As part of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Package, the government in May 2020 had announced to cover 2.5 crore farmers under the KCC scheme with a credit boost of Rs 2 lakh crore through a special saturation drive. The provision was made to help farmers meet financial requirements during the COVID-19 crisis.
The KCC Scheme was introduced in 1998 with the objectives of providing adequate and timely credit to farmers. The Centre provides interest subvention of 2 per cent and prompt repayment incentive of 3 per cent to farmers, thus making the credit available at a very subsidised rate of 4 per cent per annum.
The government has taken major farmer-friendly steps by extending the benefits of KCC with interest subvention in 2019 to Animal Husbandry including Dairy and Fisheries farmers for their working capital requirement and raising the existing limit of collateral-free agriculture loan from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1.60 lakh.